Republic of Ireland vs. Nigeria Preview | Super Falcons Defying Expectations
It is match day three at the ongoing FIFA Women’s World Cup (WWC) in Australia and New Zealand. In group B, Nigeria jointly top the log with Canada on four points, both teams need just a draw each in their final group game to qualify for the next round, or the stage we call the money doubling rounds, the round of 16.
In this article, we shall be analyzing the Republic of Ireland vs. Nigeria match scheduled, for Monday, July 31st at the Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane, Australia.
The Republic of Ireland are one of a number of World Cup teams who are making their Women’s World Cup debut in Australia & New Zealand 2023. They’ve remained competitive in both matches but are headed for an early exit following two losses. Meanwhile, the Super Falcons of Nigeria are in the Group B lead, and a draw will be enough to see them through.
The Republic of Ireland with no point from two matches remain bottom of Group B log while Nigeria top the table with four points and courtesy of more goals scored ahead of Canada who are on four points as well and Australia with three points.
Despite losing their first two matches, the Girls in Green have showcased impressive performances in those matches, scored their first goal against Canada, just 4 minutes into their second group game, and it was the first-ever Olimpico goal in the women’s world cup history.
In like manner, the Super Falcons who prior to the commencement of this tournament were underrated held the Olympic champions, Canada to a goalless draw before stunning hosts, Australia in their second group game.
Last five matches
Both teams are in good form, however, the Republic of Ireland ‘Girls in Green’ have only won one of their last five games and that was against an African team, the Copper Queens of Zambia, who defeated the Super Falcons of Nigeria at the last WAFCON 2022 in Morocco.
Ireland lost 0-1 to USWNT, 0-3 to France, 0-1 against Australia, and 1-2 to Canada.
On the other hand, the Super Falcons of Nigeria have now won four of their last five matches with the latest being the victory over the Matildas of Australia. The nine-time African champions defeated Costa Rica 1-0, Haiti two goals to one, beat World Cup co-host New Zealand 3-0 before a draw against Canada.
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This is the first-ever meeting between the Republic of Ireland and Nigeria on the World Cup schedule. They’ve never met in any competition before. As stated earlier, the Republic of Ireland won their last game against an African team, Zambia, but would definitely be a different ball game and a different motivation against the Super Falcons of Nigeria.
Meanwhile, Nigeria have just one victory, two draws, and ten losses record against European teams in their FIFA Women’s World Cup history.
Nigeria have appeared at all the editions of the FIFA organized women’s quadrennial football tournament with their best performance being a quarter-final stage in 1999.
The Republic of Ireland are rated 24th in the world while Nigeria are ranked 45th in the latest FIFA rankings.
Players | Who Are The Key Players To Execute This Game For Both Teams
The Republic of Ireland are expected to file out as they did against Canada in their 3-4-3 formation.
The ‘Girls in Green’ of Ireland will be banking on their captain dexterity. The 27-year-old Arsenal forward, Katie McCabe who scored the first-ever Women’s World Cup ‘Olimpico Goal‘ she will spare head the attack against Nigeria.
The other Republic of Ireland Players who are determined to finish the business against Nigeria include:
Marissa Sheva – a twenty-six-year-old Washington Spirit midfielder has said they will be back and fight like hell against Nigeria.
Niamh Fahey is another Girls in Green member to watch out for. The 35-year-old Irish plays for Liverpool in England.
Denise Osullivan – At 29, midfielder Denise Osullivan had over 106 offers to receive, 88 most defensive pressures applied, and covers 22.17km per hour in the course of this tournament. She is another strength to execute Ireland’s game against Nigeria.
Kyra Carusa – has had 31 and the Most Receptions between the midfield and defensive line. The Ireland forward, age 27, plays for the Women’s Championship club, London City Lionesses.
Courtney Brosnan, the Girls in Green goalkeeper, who in the course of this tournament has prevented 30 goals, is one of the key players to look out for in the Ireland vs Nigeria encounter.
The 1.75m tall, 27-year-old who plays for Everton will be key in Ireland’s mission against the Super Falcons of Nigeria.
Super Falcons will be missing the service of Halimotu Ayinde who was knocked in the game against Australia.
Coach Randy Waldrum may likely twerk his team a little bit but the team will be banking on their first-choice goalkeeper, Chiamaka Nnadozie.
Other players to stop the attacking prowess of Ireland would be Ashleigh Plumptre, the Leicester City defender, Osinachi Ohale, Demehin, and probably Rofiat Imuran.
And to get the attack going, Ajibade Rasheedat, Tony Payne. Michelle Alozie, Gift Monday, and Deborah who was suspended from the first game will be available for this match.
Asisat Oshoala and Uchenna Kanu are expected to start from the flank, while Onumonu may be drafted as the point or central striker for the Falcons.
Going into the final group game, the Republic of Ireland have nothing at stake but pride and are ready to play for that, whilst the Super Falcons have more attached to the game.
Hence what are the motivating factors for both teams going into this game?
There are three factors motivating the Super Falcons of Nigeria whilst their Ireland counterparts are motivated by one thing:
Nigeria: Double Bonus | Determination To Prove A Point | To Qualify For Next Round
Should the Super Falcons qualify for the next round, a $60k bonus will be paid directly to each of the players’ accounts by FIFA.
The Falcons were underrated prior to the tournament, with nobody giving them a chance against Canada, the Olympic champions, and they were completely written off against the hosts Australia, whom the Nigerian ladies humbled before their home crowd.
The other factor is their determination to not just attend the women’s world cup to complete the numbers but to compete for the prize.
Meanwhile, Republic of Ireland also have a statement to make at their debut World Cup, they want to secure their first-ever world cup victory after losing their first two opening games against Australia and Canada.
They want to play for pride and that is why Sheva and Quinn, two members of the Girls in Green, have said they are giving their all in Monday’s encounter against Nigeria.
What the teams must do to win the game
For Republic Ireland – The Girls in green must be more clinical in front of goal, looking at their last game against Canada, they had 6 shots out of 14 on target, compared to Canada’s 7 of 17.
They need to be fast with the ball and be cautious of Nigeria’s ability to counter, run behind defenders, and the Super Falcons’ one-on-one advantage.
The Super Falcons conceded a total of 15 corners against Australia with one of such leading to a goal.
Considering Katie McCabe’s Olimpico dexterity, we are of the opinion that the Nigerian Women’s National Team must avoid unnecessary set plays, especially close to the 18-yard box, to be more solid in the back line, create more chances, hold the ball more, apply their physicality and strength going one-on-one, feed strikers with more balls, have more presence in the opponents final third and slow down play to frustrate their opponents.
Apart from FIFA ranking, all other factors like the statistics, form, and history favoured the Super Falcons of Nigeria.
But as we always noted, this is football and anything can happen on the pitch where the match results are decided within 90 minutes.
However, here’s our projection based on all outlined factors.
Nigeria have trailed for just five minutes all tournament and have managed to get results despite not having much possession. While all three points would be nice for the Super Falcons, they just need to avoid defeat here.
Pundits should not expect the Republic of Ireland to pack it in here despite early elimination. They’ll still want to pick up their first-ever Women’s World Cup win even though they are considered as underdog for this game.
And whilst this game, on the face of it, means very little for the Republic of Ireland, it actually means a whole lot. The Irish are playing at what they hope to be the first of many FIFA Women’s World Cups and they will want to depart ‘down under’ with something to show.
In contrast, Nigeria are eyeing up entering the knockout stages as group winners, ahead of both Canada and Australia. Given their impressive results so far, a low-scoring Nigerian win seems the way to go for this one.
Barring all vices and a good game plan, the Super Falcons should be able to dictate the game against the Girls in Green, thus comfortably topping Group B with seven points.
What the players are saying
Ireland Louise Quinn | “We have put in some very good performances over the past two games but there are no points on the board,” added.
“We want to be able to look back and know we have given it our all. There have been no doubts about that.
“Everyone has done everything to make sure we can get something out of those games. It’s total pride and we’re going to give it everything.”
“I am so proud of this team for that reason. We will go into that next game in Brisbane and we will fight like hell.
“We will try to come back with a result for Ireland, the fans who came out here to watch us and to show just how good this team is.
“You saw it at times. We’re so close to being one of the best teams in the world, everyone can see that.
“With this being our first tournament, the fact we are so disappointed that we held Canada to a 2-1 and it could have been a very different result, I think you see that.
“We’ll be back but we definitely have business to finish with Nigeria.”
How Things Stands In Group B
Nigeria and Canada will both qualify for the round of 16 if they avoid defeat. The Nigerians currently top the group on goals scored, which could prove the deciding factor if both Super Falcons and the Canadians Cannucks win their final group games.
Australia either must beat Canada, or draw and hope Nigeria suffer a two-goal defeat to Republic of Ireland, in order to avoid an ignominious first-round exit on home soil. The Matildas have not gone out in the group stage since 2003.
Republic of Ireland are already eliminated but will seek a first Women’s World Cup win against Nigeria.