Nigeria’s Super Falcons face a daunting task of progressing to the Round of 16 of the Women’s World Cup in France when they face Korea Republic at the Stade des Alpes in Grenoble, on Wednesday.
The Falcons were beaten 3-0 in their opening match by Norway and are well aware that another defeat could be fatal to their hopes of progressing to the next round.
Francisca Ordega, who was slammed for her hairdo and make-up after the first game on Saturday, is still hopeful that the Nigerians will qualify from the group.
“Our plan is to qualify for the next round,” Ordega told FIFA.com.
“We don’t want to go home, so the next two games are very, very important. We are going to fight. We are going to do everything we can to go through.”
Falcons vice-captain Asisat Oshoala urged her teammates to remain focused ahead of the crunch clash.
“Everyone, just keep being yourself, put in more effort, stay concentrated on the pitch; it has to be 100 per cent on the pitch. Just stick to the game plan and always remember where you are supposed to be at every point in time,” Oshoala said in her post-match interview on Tuesday.
Coach Thomas Dennerby will be without defender Faith Michael for the game. The Pitea IF of Sweden defender was injured in a clash with goalkeeper Tochukwu Oluehi during Saturday’s 3-0 loss to Norway and will take no further part in the championship.
In Michael’s absence, Chidinma Okeke, who featured for Nigeria at the 2018 U-20 Women’s World Cup, will start at right-back.
Okeke was impressive against the Norwegians when she replaced Michael in the 53rd minute on Saturday.
“It changes our plans a bit definitely because her (Michael) speed is very useful when you play with three in the backline. We will see what will happen about that,” Dennerby said in his post-match interview on Tuesday.
Korea Republic have never faced Nigeria at this level and they are without a win in their last four matches. Striker Jung Seolbin is aware of the threat the Falcons can pose.
“African players are very flexible and they also seem to perform well under the hot weather,” Seolbin told FIFA.com ahead of the game.
“Speed could be another factor for us in this match because I think they’re even faster than European sides we’ve faced before.”
Also, Korea winger Lee Geummin was more specific about their opponents on Wednesday, stating clearly that they were not good as the Falcons.
“Nigerian defenders are quick, skillful with their feet, and calm under pressure, but I also saw they lose in one-on-one situations and their defensive organisation is not that solid.
“They’re good individually, but not so much as a whole team.”