Tomorrow, Australia and Nigeria square off in a vital meeting in the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup. Both teams will meet in Winnipeg for their second match in Group D knowing that a loss could put them on the brink of elimination.
With USA and Sweden slugging it out in the other match in Group D, this matchup between Australia and Nigeria becomes extremely decisive. Four third-placed teams advance to the knockout stage so a point for either team is vital. Three points would be the icing on the cake. The Australians are hard pressed to be bottom of the group after a game losing to the Americans 3-1, while the Nigerians came down from two deficits, 0-2 and 2-3, to earn a hard fought point.
In the opener for the Matildas, they leveled things up at one through Lisa De Vanna on some poor clearances by the United States. However, goals from Christen Press and Megan Rapinoe finished them off sending them back to the showers with the loss. After the loss, the Australian women’s national team website said the United States Women’s National Team isn’t that good. Just a bit of poor sportsmanship and some bitterness there from Australia. Meanwhile, the Super Falcons were flying high after coming from behind twice. Two goals in just three minutes apart from Ngozi Okobi and Asisat Oshoala tied the game up at two, and then a late equalizer by Francisca Ordega meant they would share the spoils with the Swedes.
If Australia wants to win this game, they’re going to need to have to defend the wings adequately. It was the play of Megan Rapinoe which did them in at the end of the game. The American midfielder was a nuisance on the wing bothering the Australians with her pace and passing ability. The goal that led to Rapinoe’s brace was her going on a sensational solo run and delightfully tucking it home. With the pace of the Nigeria, Australia may have to make some changes to their lineup if they want to keep the tempo of the game at a much more moderate pace.
If Nigeria wants to win, they’re going to have to do the same thing as they did against Sweden, which is keeping the up-tempo style of play and attack with their pace. Despite the draw in their opener, the Super Falcons exhibited why they were no pushover as they kept “flying” at the Swedes keeping them on their back foot when they were on the attack. The counterattack is going to be key for them. It was when Sweden held possession for multitudes of minutes was when Nigeria broke down on defense. They’re going to need to use some high pressure, pressing tactics to force the Matildas off the ball to get on the break.
If the last fixtures from each team are any indication, this one should be a shootout. Look for Australia to play with urgency early on to try and open up the scoring. If they can do that, they should be able to pressure Nigeria into mistakes. Should Nigeria score first, the Matildas are going to have to push for goals which will open up a plethora of space for them to get out on the counterattack. Despite being a predicted shootout, this one is going to be a tense affair which this writer predicts Australia to edge out the Super Falcons by a 3-2 scoreline.