FIFA Women’s World Cup: Nigeria’s Trio Return, Kerr Out Ahead Of Australia Clash

By Victor Kanayo 

Nigeria’s trio of Desire Oparanozie, Rasheedat Ajibade and Halimatu Ayinde are now available for selection when their side face co-host Australia in the second group match of the ongoing 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup.

Feelers from the World Cup venue revealed that having recovered from injury she copped on the last day of the final training camp in Gold Coast, Oparanozie could play some part in Thursday’s cracker with the Matildas at the Lang Park.

Players’ Selection Options For Waldrum 

Further update showed that she trained on her own, kicking the ball on the side of the pitch as the other 21 players were drilled by coach Randy Waldrum and his assistants.

Also, goalkeeper Chiamaka Nnadozie, who saved a penalty taken by non-pareil Christine Sinclair and won the MVP award on the matchday one, was allowed off perhaps to relax her nerves.

With midfield powerhouses – Ajibade and Ayinde back from suspension, Coach Waldrum is most likely to juggle the starting line-up, with Ayinde possibly the clear replacement for the impressive Deborah Abiodun who got a red card against the Canadians.

The lithe and lethal Ajibade, being ambipedal, could be deployed on either wing, meaning either Francisca Ordega or Ifeoma Onumonu could start from the bench.

The technical crew also have the versatile Jennifer Echegini on the roster, as well as Uchenna Kanu.

Nigeria, Raising Africa’s Bar

Ever-present Nigeria is the only African team to have earned a point here after their first round of matches, with other flagbearers Zambia, South Africa and Morocco having been denied of any point by their respective opponents.

The Falcons returned to training on Sunday evening after having Saturday off, following Friday’s draw with Canada in Melbourne, and also trained on Monday evening at the match time (8pm).

Kerr Still On Sideline 

Meanwhile, Australia captain Sam Kerr is still doubtful for the clash as she continues to nurse the injury that ruled her out of the first game against the Irish.

Australia, with three points, top Group B after the first round of matches, with Nigeria and Canada joint second with one point each.

For the Matildas, victory will take them to six points and all but guarantee a place in the Round of 16, ahead of their much-anticipated clash with Olympic champions Canada.

Hustle For More Cash 

With the championship hosting 32 teams, it means only two top-placed teams in each will make progress to the knock-out rounds, where more cash is available for the players.

Every team want to earn more money in the tournament, with the sum of $60,000 to go to each player whose team attains the Round of 16, and $90,000 for any team that gets to the quarter finals.

Players of teams that exit the group stage will only earn $30,000 each.

 

Credit GistNew

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