FIFA Women's World Cup 70 Day Countdown: Day 4 - Nigeria Snapshot

As we enter day five of Edge of the Crowd’s electrifying 70-day countdown to the highly anticipated 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup, we’re diving headfirst into a whirlwind tour of the fierce and fabulous teams gracing this year’s tournament.

Join us on this journey as we dish out the inside scoop on each squad's strengths, weaknesses, players to keep an eye on and what a pass mark might be for each nation.

Next up, is Group B team and FIFA Women's World Cup constants, Nigeria.

FIFA Women's World Cup appearances: 8 (1991, 1995, 1999, 2003, 2007, 2011, 2015, 2019)

Best performance at a FIFA Women's World Cup: Quarter-finals (1999)

Players to watch

Nigeria's captain and most-capped women's player, Onome Ebi, is entering her sixth World Cup and will be leading the team from her centre-back position in July. The FC Levante Las Planas defender found a way to open the scoring in Nigeria's recent win against New Zealand, but just as crucially, has demonstrated many times over the years, her tackling pressure in the defensive third has saved plenty of chances for opposition attackers.

Many of the Super Falcons' chances on goal are a credit to the attack down the left-hand side where winger Michelle Alozie can often be seen dribbling down the line and surveying the options up front. While she's only just played a handful of games for Nigeria, the Houston Dash forward had two assists in the recent friendly against New Zealand and has shown her prowess along the wing and in the attacking end.

Up front, all eyes will be on Asisat Oshoala. The five-time African Women's Footballer of the Year will be making her mark and show her capabilities on the biggest stage. Since the 2019 World Cup, the Barcelona FC star has scored almost 150 goals for the Primers Division club since joining in that same year and has translated that form into her game for Nigeria too, including one goal and a couple of chances in the recent friendlies.

2023 form

Nigeria has played in two friendlies as warm-up for the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup and won both fixtures against New Zealand (3-0) and Haiti (2-1), each in the space of six days.

In both matches, Nigeria got on the attack early and scored the opening goals within the first 40 minutes. And in both matches, it also allowed for the team to begin the second half with that momentum, which saw the lead doubled in both instances.

Across the two games, Nigeria only let in one goal - against Haiti in the 72nd minute - while sharing the load themselves. From five goals in the two games, Nigeria had five different goalscorers, which, come time for the World Cup's group stage, having multiple players able to strike the ball into the back of the net will be valuable in a tournament setting.

Nigeria was also invited to the 2023 Revelations Cup by host Mexico. At the four-team tournament, Nigeria finished third with a 1-0 win over Costa Rica after two 1-0 defeats to Mexico and Columbia.

Strengths and Weaknesses

Strengths: Nigeria is taking some amount of form under Randy Waldrum into the World Cup, looking comfortable with some complete performances that include a couple of clean sheets. While matches against Australia, The Republic of Ireland, and Canada will be tougher, Nigeria has had a good lead-in.

The Super Falcons' ability to also find unlikely goalscorers shows there's no reliance on one player, with even defenders popping up to celebrate one of their own. It'll lessen the expectation on Oshoala up front and could see some surprise results for Nigeria.

Weaknesses: Nigeria has just produced two wins in the last three World Cups and while the team has some star talent and is a dominant force in Africa, translating that onto the international stage is a different beast. The Super Falcons were lucky to make it out of the group stage in 2019 after finishing third in Group A.

The Super Falcons' passing quality and movement can be a little expected at times which teams such as their Group B opponents will easily cotton onto. The Super Falcons can also be too casual when in possession and with its shape, so when turnovers present, the players will need to react fast to correct the mistakes, otherwise, in another concern, goals will be scored against them.

Pass mark

One win won't be enough of a pass mark for Nigeria this time around, so the side will hope to scrape two results its way and reach the Round of 16 by virtue of a better all-around performance than 2019's run.

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