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Can the Super Falcons make Nigerians smile again? An analysis by Samuel Akpan

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Whatever you think of the Super Falcons, the team has battled Canada with an intentional defensive approach to curb the attacking threats of the Olympic champions.

Against Australia they clawed back from a goal down to drown Australians infront of their home fans, the girls from Nigeria attacked with intent and precision and the girls are expected to file out on Monday against Ireland to book a place in the next stage.

Super Falcons have played 28 games in the World Cup since making their first appearance in China 1991 and have won five, drew four and lost 19.

But that can’t be said of their next opponent, Ireland; their first test at the World Cup is coming to an end against the Super Falcons, after falling to defeat in their opening two games.

Nigeria were detailed in their defensive display, neutralizing the 4-2-3-1 attacking threats of the Canadians, who are ranked as one of the best national team sides when it comes to their shots on target percentage as well as their xG per shot.

Randy Waldrum’s tactical masterclasses outsmarted the Australian’s with his 4-2-3-1 shape, exploiting the loopholes in the 4-4-2 of the host; the formation created plenty of space to navigate in central areas and congest the midfield.

On Monday, Super Falcons will come up against Ireland who are ranked 22 in the world.

Waldrum 4-2-3-1 will be key to dismantle the 3-4-3 tactics, taking advantage of the wide areas as the back 3 can’t cover as much space as a back 4 would, and therefore, aggressive counter-attacks have the potential to rip a defensive line apart.

Australia’s head coach, Tony Gustavsson, was stunned by the tactical approach of Nigeria when he said: “It was a big surprise. They wanted to use speed against our centre-backs in transition”.

The Super Falcons are also brilliant in their defensive responsibility with their low blocks, stopping opponents from accessing their defensive third, they repelled almost all the 28 shots faced against the Australian.

Asisat Oshoala only came on for the final half an hour against Australia, as Randy Waldrum continues to manage her minutes, but the Barcelona superstar is likely to start this time.

The 11-time WAFCON winners, need a draw to guarantee them a place in the knock out stages and win to remain in first place if there is a winner in the other match taking place simultaneously.

Predicted XI (4-2-3-1): Nnadozie; Alozie, Ohale, Demehin, Plumptre; Ucheibe, Ayinde, Payne, Onumonu, Kanu; Oshoala.

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