Nigeria — the Football Ferns’ next opponents — might be ranked 42nd in FIFA’s world rankings, but they have ambitions to punch above their weight at this year’s World Cup.
As her team prepared to play New Zealand in Turkey, Onome Ebi, captain of the Super Falcons, says her team is aiming for a semi-final spot at the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
Ebi told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN):
“We are going there to give our best, and our target is to at least get to the last four, having made it to the round of 16 in our last outing at France in 2019.
“However, there are no guarantees, we are just going there to play our game. We are working towards it and have been playing several high-profile friendly games.”
Main photo: The Nigerian Super Falcons.
‘The World Cup is the big target’
Nigeria play the Ferns at Turkey’s Mardan Sports Complex in the early hours of Wednesday.
On April 8, Nigeria beat Haiti 2-1 in Turkey, and earlier in the year, they beat Colombia 1-0 while losing 1-0 to Mexico and to Costa Rica by the same score.
“In spite of the fact that the results are not what Nigerians want, I believe our losses will help us get better as we work on our mistakes ahead of the World Cup,” Ebi said.
“The World Cup finals is the big target, and that’s what we are working for.”
Barcelona striker Asisat Oshoala scored against Haiti on her recall to international football and partnered with substitute Desire Operanozie who has returned to the Super Falcons after being frozen out of the side for four years after leading a player protest over pay in 2019.
Operanozie has scored 22 goals in her 36 international appearances and poses a threat for the Football Ferns, who drew 1-1 with Iceland on April 8.
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Coach Jitka Klimková: ‘We need to be prepared for a different style of play’
After the Iceland match, Ferns head coach Jitka Klimková said she would be seeking consistency from her team when they played Nigeria.
“We can see we can really well perform well against strong opposition,” she said.
“Nigeria will be a little bit different — we haven’t played a team from the African federation, so we know they will be physical and very athletic, and we need to be prepared for a different style of play.
“It is another great test for this team to be prepared for the World Cup.”
Game to be played on Wednesday April 12, 2023
New Zealand v Nigeria
Mardan Sports Complex, Antalya, Turkey, 1am (NZT).
How to watch
The match will be broadcast live on Sky Sport 1, with coverage starting at 12.50am.
Watch New Zealand v Iceland
Watch nine minutes of edited highlights here:
Watch Nigeria v Haiti
Mackenzie Barry (6 caps) Wellington Phoenix, New Zealand
Liz Anton (19 caps) Perth Glory, Australia
Katie Bowen (91 caps) Melbourne City, Australia
Claudia Bunge (19 caps) Melbourne Victory, Australia
Olivia Chance (43 caps) Celtic, Scotland
Milly Clegg (1 cap) Wellington Phoenix, New Zealand
Daisy Cleverley (31 caps) HB Køge, Denmark
Victoria Esson (13 caps) Rangers, Scotland
Michaela Foster (3 caps) Wellington Phoenix, New Zealand
Jacqui Hand (11 caps) Aland United, Finland
Betsy Hassett (142 caps) Wellington Phoenix, New Zealand
Grace Jale (16 caps) Canberra United, Australia
Anna Leat (9 caps) Aston Villa, England
Meikayla Moore (63 caps) Glasgow City, Scotland
Erin Nayler (84 caps) IFK Norrköping, Sweden
Grace Neville (4 caps) London City Lionesses, England
Gabi Rennie (23 caps) Arizona State University, United States
Ali Riley (151 caps) Angel City, United States
Indiah-Paige Riley (7 caps) Brisbane Roar, Australia
Paige Satchell (41 caps) Wellington Phoenix, New Zealand
Malia Steinmetz (17 caps) Western Sydney Wanderers, Australia
Rebekah Stott (88 caps) Brighton & Hove Albion, England
Kate Taylor (8 caps) Wellington Phoenix, New Zealand
Hannah Wilkinson (112 caps) Melbourne City, Australia
Head coach: Jitka Klimková
Chiamaka Nnadozie (Paris FC, France)
Yewande Balogun (AS Saint-Etienne, France)
Inyene Etim (Abia Angels)
Onome Ebi (Abia Angels)
Osinachi Ohale (Deportivo Alaves, Spain)
Ashleigh Plumptre (Leicester City, England)
Glory Ogbonna (Besiktas JK, Turkey)
Rofiat Imuran (Stade de Reims, France)
Michelle Alozie (Houston Dash, United States)
Oluwatosin Demehin (Stade de Reims, France)
Halimatu Ayinde (FC Rosengard, Sweden)
Christy Ucheibe (SL Benfica, Portugal)
Ngozi Okobi-Okeoghene (FC Levante Las Planas, Spain)
Deborah Abiodun (Rivers Angels)
Toni Payne (Sevilla FC, Spain)
Regina Otu (AS Saint-Etienne, France)
Asisat Oshoala (Barcelona Femenin, Spain)
Rasheedat Ajibade (Atletico Madrid, Spain)
Esther Okoronkwo (AS Saint-Etienne, France)
Ifeoma Onumonu (NY/NJ Gotham FC, United States)
Uchenna Kanu (Racing Louisville, Kentucky, United States)
Desire Oparanozie (Wuhan Chegu Jianghan, China)
Gift Monday (UDG Tenerife, Spain)
Head coach: Randy Waldrum