Australia v Nigeria Preview

Australia v Nigeria Preview

Australia look to get their 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup campaign back on track when they take on African champions  Nigeria at Winnipeg Stadium, Winnipeg.

Victory for Australia would put them well and truly back into the Group D race for the knockout stages.

The Matildas will be looking to build on their opening match performance which saw them provide the United States with a stern challenge before being overrun late.

It was a match in which Emily van Egmond, Katrina Gorry and Elise Kellond-Knight were instrumental in controlling the midfield and the game for Australia.

A similar performance against “Super Falcons” will go a long way to controlling the encounter and ultimately the result.

Nigeria present a different challenge from the Americans. This is a team that is less structured and certainly more attacking.

In the front four of Asisat Oshoala, Desire Oparanozie, Ngozi Okobi and Francisca Ordega, Nigeria have an exciting, quick and destructive attack.

It was one that time and again caused Sweden significant issues as they found ways in behind the Swedish back four.

“There are no surprises,” said Matildas coach Alen Stajcic when asked about what was learned about Nigeria in their first match.

“They played as I expected they would; really electric, powerful up front, quick, dynamic, good touches on the ball.”

“For all their positives and negatives, they really put on a great performance.”

While BBC Women’s Footballer of the Year Oshoala was given many of the headlines, the communication and the interaction between Oparanozie and Ordega as well as the passing of Okobi were key to the Nigeria’s taking apart one of Europe’s powerhouse teams.

Despite that, Stajcic believes Australia will be able and ready to counter the threat.

“We are not exactly slow at the back,” he said.

“Being able to read the game is essential with individual players at the back. As a team we have certainly spoken about that and we have a game plan in place.”

Nigeria’s defence will have some questions of their own to answer against an Australian attack which, but for some spectacular Hope Solo saves, went close to firing Australia to the opening round points.

Like the Nigerians, it is an attack filled with pace but Australia’s different dimension is the ability to also play tempo and possession football.

With Nigeria not as tight at the back as the United States, there will be space for the Matildas to exploit and players like Sam Kerr, who had a quiet opening match by her standards, could find themselves with a little more space to work in.

Stajcic has already flagged that there will be changes to the squad with Lydia Williams, who has recovered from a knock earlier in the week, Kyah Simon and Clare Polkinghorne likely to come into the starting line up for the Melissa Barbieri, Lisa De Vanna and Laura Alleway.

Although with Stajcic, who is known to pull personal and positional surprises, it is not set in stone.

This is the first meeting between the two nations and the stakes are high. While a defeat or draw is not fatal to Australia’s chances of progressing from the group, three points would make all within the camp much more comfortable.

It is all set up for what could be one of the matches of Group D and possibly the tournament.


Match Details

Australia v Nigeria
Winnipeg Stadium
12 June 2015 (local) / 13 June 2015 (Aus)
Kick off: 4.00pm (local time), 7.00 am (AEST)

Live on SBS One and streaming online at theworldgame.sbs.com.au