All is set for the fifth Round of 16 games of the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup ongoing in Australia and New Zealand. England and Nigeria will be slugging it out at Brisbane Stadium in what is sure to be a feisty and exciting clash. Melissa Borjas is the chosen official for the match and will surely be looking to make things as smooth and interesting as possible. While England had a smooth run into the knockout rounds, winning all three of their matches, Nigeria had a tougher group to contend with, beating Australia between draws to Canada and Ireland. This makes England favourites, but surely the best-ranked team from Africa can hold it down.
England struggled in their first two matches against Denmark and Haiti, but they reminded us of how potent they can be with a resplendent goal fest against China. Head coach Sarah Wiegman seemed to tweak her formation a bit to accommodate Lauren James in a more attacking role and was rewarded with a more-than-solid display against the Asians. Chelsea star Lauren James will be key to recording a win over Nigeria, but that does not make them total favourites.
Nigeria head coach Waldrum decided to go with a counter-attacking strategy in Nigeria’s first game against Canada and were able to counter the goal threat of the North Americans. Deborah Abiodun however managed to get red-carded and lost her starting spot. Oshoala, Nigeria’s best chance at getting a goal was isolated up front for much of the game and could do nothing. Goalie Chiamaka Nnadozie was the hero of the day, saving a penalty and keeping the scores level till full-time. There was much excitement in their second match, however, as Oshoala, coming on as a substitute, scored to give Nigerians the win. A dour draw against Ireland followed as both teams struggled to take their chances in the match.
However, if there is one thing the Nigerians know how to do well, it is the art of defending. Christy Ucheibe currently leads all players for most attempted tackles (18) and leads Nigerians for most high-intensity pressures. Oshoala will look to add to her goal tally in this match also.
This is sure to be England’s toughest test so far. They will need to unlock those good performances we know them to display consistently to go through and possibly win the trophy. After all, their best two challengers (Germany and Brazil) have been eliminated from the tournament. This is surely their best chance, and they will be giving their all. Nigeria, on the other hand, will be looking to surpass their best performance at a Women’s World Cup. Oshoala and the gang will surely be waiting to perform beyond expectations, which is why this game could swing either way.
A beautiful game in women’s football awaits!