Falcons Count on Providence as Group Stage Matches Are Concluded Thursday



Duro Ikhazuagbe

Maria Bonsegundo’s equalizing goal for Argentina in last night’s 3-3 draw with Scotland has brighten Nigeria’s Super Falcons prospects of making it to the Round of 16 of the ongoing FIFA Women’s World Cup in France.

With that draw, the Super Falcons remain in third spot in the standings for third placed teams, ahead of this evening’s matches in Group E and F. The draw also knocked out either Argentina or Scotland from dreaming of picking any of the four slots reserved for best third place finishers.

England and Japan qualify from this group as winners and runners-up respectively.

And so, as the France 2019 group stage goes out with a bang today with two matches, Nigerians will be praying that in Group E, neither Cameroon nor New Zealand who are meeting in the last match should get any win more than 1-0.

Although they both having no point yet but any win for either team in excess of 1-0 will likely spell doom for Nigeria as their minus 3 goal difference respectively may drop to either same with Falcons or superior count.

In Group F, Thailand is out of the equation for qualifying having no point and standing on minus 17 goals.

But should Chile currently on no point get a win of 4-0 over the Asians, that will reduce their goal-deficit to minus one, a superior aggregate over Nigeria.

Apart from the battles for the last two slots of the Third place finishers, Netherlands and Canada will battle for the top spot of Group E while USA and Sweden also on same six points as the teams in the earlier group have so much to fight for.

Top spot in Groups E and F are on the line as holders USA face bogey team Sweden in Le Havre, while Canada takes on European champions The Netherlands in Reims.

With a ticket to the Round of 16 already booked, Sarina Wiegman’s The Netherlands want to turn on the style. Wiegman has been satisfied with their results but says the Oranjeleeuwinnen “can do so much better” when it comes to the quality of their performances.

A Canada side also assured of their place in the next round might prove the perfect opponents for the Dutch Lionesses to rediscover the spark that brought them the European title.
Canada have reached the last 16 but sit second in Group E with the Netherlands ahead on goals scored. The Canadians are keen to win this match and top the table with captain Christine Sinclair having warned about the dangers of speculating on knockout phase opponents. A slight change in the line-up is expected to increase momentum, add some freshness and possibly catch the Dutch off guard.

While USA and Sweden are both safely through to the last 16, the rich history between the teams makes this a mouth-watering fixture. Sweden inflicted the US’s first and – to date – only group-stage loss at a Women’s World Cup back in 2011. More recently, at the 2016 Olympics, the Swedes were responsible for the Americans failing to reach the last four of a major tournament for the first time in their history. The holders know they’ll need to be at their best to avoid a repeat in Le Havre