It could be a clash of teams with contrasting fortunes as Nigeria face Ireland in their final Group B match on Monday.
While Nigeria’s Super Falcons are looking forward to the knockout stage, Monday’s match will be the end of the road for the already eliminated Ireland.
But it will not be a stroll in the park for the Nigerian side, knowing fully that Australian fans will be solidly behind the Irish side for the obvious reasons.
Perhaps it is on that account that history -making Super Falcons captain Onome Ebi remarked that her players tare gingered and in a super positive mood ahead of the match.
The 40 – year old became the oldest women to have featured at this edition of the FIFA Women’s World Cup when she was introduced into the game against co-hosts Australia at the same venue on Thursday.
She’s also one of the few women, and the only one from the African continent, to have played in six finals, alongside Brazil’s Marta and Canada’s Christine Sinclair.
“We are very positive and looking forward to the match. The mood in camp is great and everyone is in high spirits. The win against Australia has given us the belief and the confidence to face any team. We will play for a win.
“We want Nigerians all over the world to continue to support us and believe in the team. That alone gives us great motivation. We have won one match and drawn one. We want to set the record of not losing any match in the group phase and topping our group.”
When the Falcons reached the knock-out rounds in the USA in 1999, the team lost to hosts USA before defeating North Korea and Denmark to make the quarter-finals. Mercy Akide and Rita Nwadike scored in the 2-1 win over North Korea, while Akide and Nkiru Okosieme scored in the 2-0 win over Denmark.
In 2019, when they reached the Round of 16, the nine-time African champions lost 0-3 to Norway and 0-1 to hosts France, on either side of a 2-0 defeat of South Korea, with Asisat Oshoala scoring after an own goal by the Koreans.
“We know we still have a job to do; we are not deterred. We simply go in there and play for a win,” Ebi added.
The Falcons, top of the pool with four points, take on the ‘Girls in Green” on Monday night starting from 8pm Australia time (11am Nigeria time) with the Irish already eliminated from the tournament.
Co-hosts Australia tackle Canada in the other match of the group that will be played simultaneously. The Canadians are also on four points, with the Matildas on three.
With a win in mind, Nigeria could start with a forward-line of record-breaker Asisat Oshoala, and Uchenna Kanu (who scored the first goal against Australia), with Rasheedat Ajibade and Ifeoma Onumonu operating from the wings.