Nigeria women’s coach takes positives from Canada tour

1 month ago 350
Nigeria player in action against CanadaNigeria took the lead twice in their second friendly match against Canada, but had to settle for a 2-2 draw

Nigeria women's coach Randy Waldrum said there were "some positives" to take from his side's two friendlies against Olympic champions Canada.

The North Americans won the first game 2-0 in Vancouver over the weekend, but the African champions forced a 2-2 draw with the hosts earlier this week.

The contests against the world's sixth-ranked international side formed part of the Super Falcons' preparations for their 2022 Women's Africa Cup of Nations campaign.

"The two games gave us a chance to see our areas of improvement, where we are and what we must do differently," Waldrum told BBC Sport Africa.

"Due to visa-related issues, injuries and other problems, we didn't have some of our key players here like Asisat Oshoala, one of the leading goalscorers in Europe.

"Other players upfront like Desire Oparanozie, Esther Okoronkwo and Vivian Ikechukwu couldn't travel down for this tour.

"We also didn't have one of our dependable defenders in Osinachi [Ohale]. But there are some valuable lessons and positives to take away from Canada."

Nigeria have been Africa's dominant team for over three decades and have not failed to make a Women's World Cup appearance since the inaugural edition in 1991.

The West Africans are the continent's most successful national side and boast nine Nations Cup titles, having claimed the past three continental crowns.

The Super Falcons will defend their crown in Morocco from 2-23 July, with the four semi-finalists automatically qualifying for the 2023 Women's World Cup.

Canada games 'will prepare Nigeria strongly'

Randy Waldrum on the side linesRandy Waldrum is looking to lead Nigeria to a fourth consecutive Women's Nations Cup title

After testing themselves against Canada ahead of the continental campaign in July, Waldrum remains positive despite a loss and a draw in British Columbia.

"It's such a huge reward to get result against such a quality team like Canada. They created a lot of chances, but we stayed in shape," the 65-year-old American added.

"This will help prepare the team strongly for the Women's Afcon in Morocco. A quality team like Canada expose you differently and in a way that we don't get in Africa. We know that can also cause problems for teams.

"The area we need to work on is our overall game model, organisation and how we want to play. That takes time and it's a lot better from a year ago. We need to play together collectively.

"Despite missing some notable names I've had the luxury of giving some players a chance and overall, I'm proud of the performance of our team."

Nigeria's best performance on the global stage came in the USA in 1999, when they reached the World Cup quarter-finals.

At the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, they again reached the quarter-finals, and the team's run at the 2019 Women's World Cup in France ended in a last-16 defeat by Germany.

Elsewhere, fellow Women's Nations Cup qualifiers South Africa were beaten 5-1 by the Netherlands on Tuesday.

The Dutch took an early lead through Jackie Groenen before Thembi Kgatlana equalised midway through the first half.

But goals from Lineth Beerensteyn and Vivianne Miedema made it 3-1 at half-time and two late strikes from Damaris Egurrola wrapped up the game in The Hague.

Tournament hosts Morocco beat Ghana 2-0 in Rabat, with Tottenham's Rosella Ayane scoring both goals for the North Africans.

The group stage draw for the 12-team Women's Afcon will be held on Monday, 25 April.

Source Article