By Salifu Usman, Abuja
The Super Falcons are ready to slug it out with their counterpart from Korea Republic this evening for the second group A match, at the ongoing FIFA Women World Cup in France.
Both teams head into the game on the back of heavy opening game defeats. The Nigerian ladies were on the wrong end of a 3-0 scoreline against Norway whilst South Korea were blown away by France and were lucky it was only 4-0. But the defeats by such wide margins aren’t necessarily the end for either teams’ hopes of progression to the knockout stages. But that will depend on the outcome of this match. With four third-place teams joining the top two finishers in each group, this game will be the one both sides circled as their leading chance of a victory.
Super Falcons head coach, Thomas Dennerby and team medics yesterday ruled veteran defender Faith Michael out of the tournament. The Pitea IF of Sweden defender was injured in a clash with goalkeeper Tochukwu Oluehi during Saturday’s 0-3 loss to Norway and will take no further part in the championship, no matter how far the African champions get.
In Michael’s absence, petite Chidinma Okeke, a former junior international who featured for Nigeria at the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup also staged in France last year summer, will start at right back. She was impressive against the Norwegians when she replaced Michael in the 53rd minute on Saturday.
The central defensive pairing of veteran Onome Ebi and Osinachi Ohale will be maintained, as left back Ngozi Ebere. In the midfield, Dennerby will decide whether to once more go with the trio of Ngozi Okobi, Rita Chikwelu and Halimatu Ayinde, or rest the latter for Portugal –based Chinaza Uchendu.
Captain Desire Oparanozie, Asisat Oshoala and Francisca Ordega will be saddled with the assignment of getting the goals that will keep Falcons’ hopes of remaining in France beyond 17th June.
While Nigeria and Korea DPR have squared up to each other on two occasions at the FIFA World Cup (one win each way), it is a first meeting for the Super Falcons and the Koreans of the south.