SUPER Falcons head coach Thomas Dennerby has attributed yesterday’s 2-0 victory over South Korea in the ongoing Fifa Women’s World Cup to an improvement in discipline as his wards played together as a unit better than they did in their first match.
Drawn in Group A alongside hosts France, Norway and South Korea, the Super Falcons are hoping to reach the knockout stages of the tournament for only the second time in their history. However, they got off to a bad start on Saturday, losing 0-3 to Norway in their opening match as a disjointed display gifted the Norwegians three easy first half goals.
In the second half of that game, the Falcons regained some composure but by then it was too late as the Norwegians defended resolutely to keep them at bay. Yesterday, however, the Falcons were not so charitable at the back when they faced the Koreans in Grenoble, keeping it tight at the back and benefitting from a change of goalkeeper.
Teenager Chiamaka Nnadozie came in for veteran goalkeeper Tochukwu Oluehi and performed heroics in goal, keeping the Koreans at bay repeatedly. Coach Dennerby is now confident that his team has a good chance of advancing to the second round if they can replicate yesterday’s form in the final match against France.
Nigeria took the lead in the 29th minute when Korean defender Kim Doyeon scored an own goal. A long ball forward causes chaos in the Korean backline and the defender, in attempting to clear the danger, flicked the ball past the advancing goalkeeper Kim Minjung.
After a brief video assisted referee review for a possible handball against striker Desire Oparanozie, the goal was allowed by the Russian referee. From then onwards, the Falcons regained their composure and began knocking the ball about confidently, using their pace to get behind the Korean defence on the counter-attack.
In the 75th minute, the match, which took place at Stade des Alpes, was sealed thanks to Asisat Oshoala’s second-half strike. Latching on to a long pass during a counter-attack, she rounded the Korean goalkeeper to score from an impossible angle, sending the Nigerian fans in the stand wild.
Coach Dennerby said: “Today our discipline was better than against Norway, as there were no mistakes at all. If we can be as compact as we were today, don’t let teams overplay us in midfield and find passes through, we know we’ll get opportunities for players like Asisat.
“The players followed our match plan and that’s all you can really ask. Now we go to play France, a really good team and if we can come out with a point everyone would be extremely happy.
“However, t you can’t just go to defend, you need to know what to do when you win the ball back. Hopefully, we can have a little bit of success.”
This win places Nigeria third on the Group A with three points. In this six-group tournament, the first two teams in each group will go through to the next round, along with the best four third placed teams.
With yesterday’s goal, Oshoala, 24, has equalled the scoring record set by Rita Nwadike, the only Nigerian to score in two Women’s World Cups. Asisat scored in 2015 and 2019, while Rita Nwadike’s feat was achieved in 1995 and 1999.