It’s impressive to see how well the Nigerian women’s football team, the Super Falcons, has performed in the opening three games of the 2023 Women’s World Cup, especially given the turmoil they faced before the tournament. They managed to advance to the round of 16, surpassing expectations and defying the odds.
Some key points from their performance so far:
- Defensive Improvement: The Super Falcons have kept two clean sheets, which is the first time an African team has achieved this in a single tournament in the Women’s World Cup’s history. This indicates significant improvement in their defensive capabilities.
- Asisat Oshoala’s Impact: Asisat Oshoala, the Barcelona striker, has been a standout player for the team. She scored a goal against co-hosts Australia, making her the only player from the African continent to score at three different Women’s World Cup finals.
- Balanced Scoring: Nigeria scored three goals in their opening three games, which aligns well with their Expected Goals (xG) of 3.0. This suggests that their scoring is balanced and in line with their performance expectations.
- Defensive Concerns: While their defense has improved, their Expected Goals Against (xGA) of 4.1 indicates that they have faced more challenging situations in defense compared to other qualified teams in the round of 16.
- Conversion Rate: The Super Falcons had seven big chances in their matches, but they only converted three of them, highlighting a need to be more clinical in front of goal.
- Shooting Accuracy: Nigeria attempted 33 shots on goal but hit the target with only nine of them, with Ajibade outperforming Oshoala in this regard.
- Creativity and Passing: Christy Ucheibe was instrumental in creating chances, registering the most key passes, and edging out Toni Payne in Expected Assisted Goals (xAG) from passes leading to shots.
- Lack of Open-Play Combinations: Interestingly, none of Nigeria’s goals came from open-play combinations, which might be an area of concern for the team.
- Defensive Contributions: Ucheibe stood out defensively, attempting the most tackles and recording the most interceptions, while Ashleigh Plumptre excelled in recovering loose balls.
- Goalkeeper Performance: Chiamaka Nnadozie’s performance has been solid, preventing more goals than the average goalkeeper based on the quality of shots faced.
Overall, the Super Falcons have shown resilience and a fierce mentality, but there are areas to work on, particularly in converting chances and tightening their defense. The upcoming round of 16 will provide a tougher challenge, and it remains to be seen how far they can go in the competition.
Source pictures: Pulsesports