Nigeria 0-0 Canada – Nnadozie the Hero, As Falcons Get Off to Good Start

Captain Nnadozie helped Falcons secure a draw against Canada by saving a penalty and making several saves and punches in the second half.

Nigeria’s Super Falcons fought to a gallant goalless draw in their opening match against Olympic champions Canada, with goalkeeper and captain Chiamaka Nnadozie the hero after stopping Christine Sinclair’s second-half penalty.

In Nigeria’s 27th match at the FIFA Women’s World Cup, the Super Falcons ran out on the Melbourne Rectangular Stadium as the clear underdogs to Olympic champions Canada in their fluorescent lime green kit.

The legendary Sinclair, 40, led the Canadians, and with 190 international goals, were straight in the ascendancy.

Coach Randy Waldrum elected to leave out his 40-year-old captain Onome Ebi, and the team was without the suspended duo of midfield tyro Halimatu Ayinde and in-form forward Rasheedat Ayinde.

Ashleigh Plumptre’s back-pass to Nnadozie was almost pounced on in the third minute as the Falcons started nervously. Francisca Ordega defended well in her box in the fifth, with Adriana Leon asking the referee to decide in her favour.

Sinclair had a sighter from the edge of the Nigerian box in the ninth minute, but she couldn’t keep her shot down. The first flashpoint came in the 15th minute when Rebecca Quinn got a talking-to after a studs-up tackle on Asisat Oshoala–the Nigerian forward needed treatment. Two minutes later, there was a retribution tackle on Jordyn Huitema. No cards were shown.

Onumonu got Nigeria’s first shot on target and forced a save in the 22nd minute as the Falcons grew into the game. Nigeria had a succession of corners, and from one World Cup debutant, Deborah Abiodun blazed a shot over.

A defensive mix-up in the 35th minute gave Oshoala a sight of goal in the 35th minute, but the danger was cleared. Nnadozie held on to a fizzing cross in the 43rd minute as the Falcons held on for a clean sheet.

Although the Canadians had the lion’s share of ball possession, the Falcons largely kept their more fancied opponents at bay and created some goal-scoring chances.

Second Half

Just a minute into the second half, Ordega committed a foul on Sinclair, and after VAR, the referee awarded a penalty. Sinclair took the kick, saved brilliantly by Nnadozie. Another debutant, Oluwatosin Demehin, was shown the first yellow card in the 53rd minute for a foul on Huitema.

The second stanza followed the same pattern as the first as the Falcons defended in a low block, denying the Canadians space in behind the back six. Canada made their second change as Evelyne Viens replaced Leon in the 64th minute.