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VIDEO: How Nigeria dented confidence of Women’s World Cup, co-hosts New Zealand



New Zealand’s Hannah Wilkinson chases after the ball during the Football Ferns’ match against Nigeria.

Women’s World Cup co-hosts New Zealand suffered another blow to their confidence in the leadup to the tournament on Tuesday with a 3-0 defeat to Nigeria in a friendly and the loss of veteran midfielder Betsy Hassett to a suspected broken rib.

The defeat in Antalya, Turkey extended the Football Ferns’ winless run to 10 matches and heaps further pressure on embattled coach Jitka Klimková.

“It was disappointing, specifically in front of the goal,” Klimkova said.

“We were not gritty enough in our defensive third. We gave up a goal from a set play. We gave up a goal from a cross.

“The biggest improvement we need to now look for is really gritty defending in the box and putting body on the line.”


Nigeria, ranked 42nd in the world, had goals from veteran defender Onome Ebi and Onyi Echegini on either side of the break, with substitute Désiré Oparanozie firing in a third in added time.

Hassett’s injury added salt to 25th-ranked New Zealand’s wounds, the midfielder forced from the field after 70 minutes after clashing with Oparanozie.

The injury comes after fellow midfielder Olivia Chance suffered an apparent knee injury in last week’s 1-1 draw against Iceland, which saw the Football Ferns score their first goal since November.

New Zealand, who co-host the Women’s World Cup with Australia in July and August, have not won since handing the Philippines a 2-1 defeat in September.

They meet Norway, Philippines and Switzerland in Group A at the World Cup.


Nigeria, who are pooled with Canada, Australia and Ireland in Group B, celebrated their second win in two friendlies in Turkey, having beaten Haiti 2-1 last week.


Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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