Women World Cup: Nigeria captain relishes France showdown

By AFP: Sunday, June 16th 2019 at 23:35 GMT +3 | Football
Nigeria's forward Desire Oparanozie AFP

For Nigeria captain Desire Oparanozie, her country’s meeting with hosts France at the women’s World Cup today will be like playing on “home soil”.

This is her third World Cup, and it has a special flavour given she plays her club football in France for Guingamp.

Today’s match, which is crucial for Nigeria as they seek to join France in the last 16, will be played not far from Guingamp, in Rennes.

“When you’re playing against the host nation, you’re not just playing against 11 players, you’re playing against the crowd,” warned Oparanozie, who helped her team to a 2-0 win over South Korea on Wednesday to claim their first points in Group A.

After a 3-0 loss to Norway in their opening match, that result means the Super Falcons still stand a chance of making it out of their group at a World Cup for the first time in 20 years.

Nigeria may dominate women’s football in Africa, having won 11 out of 13 Cups of Nations, but only once have they got beyond the group stage at the World Cup.

Get the latest sports news updates. Subscribe to our SMS sports service by texting 'SPORTS' to 22840.

“In past World Cups, we haven’t really done well and we are working very hard to make sure that we qualify from the group stage,” said Oparanozie.

To help them do that, the Nigerians moved last year to appoint as coach Thomas Dennerby, the Swede who led his home country to third place at the 2011 World Cup.

For More of This and Other Sports Stories Subscribe to the Standard Epaper