What next for Super Falcons after heartbreaking World Cup loss vs England

What next for Super Falcons after heartbreaking World Cup loss vs England
Credit: Icon Sport

Nigeria’s Super Falcons have been eliminated by England from the ongoing 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.

The 11-time African champions suffered defeat through penalties after a 0-0 draw at the end of extra-time. They missed their first two spot kicks, while England, who missed the first one, went on to net their remaining four.

It was a heartbreaking moment for the Super Falcons who, though they had their faults, were one of the most disciplined sides in the tournament.

There are a few takeaways from the tournament which Randy Waldrum and his coaching staff must take home and work on ahead of upcoming Super Falcons fixtures.

Super Falcons lessons from the loss to England

The Super Falcons took the game to the English from the first minute. The Nigeria women’s national football team, ranked 39th in the world, did not look like a team that are ranked 35 places below their opponents.

The Lionesses struggled to break through Nigeria’s resolute defence for the entire duration of the game plus added time and extra time, taking the match to penalties.

Veteran Super Falcons striker Desire Oparanozie, making her first appearance at the 2023 finals, missed the first penalty. Fan favourite Michelle Alozie followed up with a miss of her own. Both penalty misses came after England had corrected their course after Georgia Stanway missed the first kick of the shootout to win the whole thing.

Luck might have played a factor in the outcome but there were pieces of evidence within the game that pointed to the Nigeria women’s team throwing the match.

While the defensive line of Ashleigh Plumptre, Oluwatosin Demehin, Osinachi Ohale and Michelle Alozie with their midfield screens, Christy Ucheibe and Halimatu Ayinde, were as solid as ever, the attack proved to be the problem once again.

The Falcons scored three goals in the tournament. The goals came in their group-stage game against hosts Australia. Against England, a lack of explosiveness and proper firepower despite fielding star forwards Rasheedat Ajibade, Ifeoma Onumonu and Asisat Oshoala, led to their eventual downfall.

In hindsight, the Super Falcons may have escaped a monumental embarrassment by exiting at this stage of the competition.

What next for the Super Falcons?

On Tuesday 8 August, the Super Falcons of Nigeria will begin plans to return to Nigeria for debriefing before they return to their various bases to rest and recover.

They will gather once again in September for their next fixture, which is a 2024 Women’s AFCON qualifiers first-round match against Sao Tome and Principe. Before then, Waldrum and his team have to work on the lessons learnt.

Meanwhile, Nigerians have reacted positively to the Super Falcons despite their ousting by England. Positive messages have been sent in via social media to the players and the staff, who were also given standing ovations by the fans at the stadium.

Speaking to the media after the game, Waldrum said: “[The players] have been fantastic all tournament. We've played four matches, including against the Olympic gold medallists and the European champions and had clean sheets in those games.

“I'm so proud of them. They have such a bright future. The players came together in an unbelievable way. They just played their hearts out and I couldn't be more proud of them.

“We can be and should be one of the top teams in the world. I think we have shown we're capable of playing with anybody.”

This article was most recently revised and updated 10 months ago

All-round lover of the beautiful game. Massive football fan, supported Arsenal for decades for reasons that are unexplainable. One day we will win the Champions League!