The Second round of group stage matches began with Nigeria picking up their first 3 points in a World Cup Campaign since 2011. The Falcons squared off against South Korea and despite a not-so-pretty performance, managed to run away with a win, a clean sheet, and two goals. Both teams had a few changes in team selection and South Korea played with a different formation from Match Day 1.
The match began with both teams really itching to get a goal at least. The first real chance for the Nigerians came in the 9th minute through a Desire Oparanozie header but it was no threat for South Korean keeper, Kim Minjung. Less than ten minutes after that, the Koreans came knocking on the Nigerian’s defence but the Falcons’ young goalkeeper, Chiamaka Nnadozie was able to stop the shot from Lee Geum-min. In the 29th minute, Nigeria broke the deadlock with the help of Kim Doyeon who slotted a lofted through ball into her own net. The half ended with Nigeria in front.
The second half started with a few more goal attempts and in the 57th minute the Koreans found the back of the net again – this time the Nigerian net but it was ruled out for offside. It took a while before Nigeria sealed the win through an Asisat Oshoala goal in the 72nd minute and the scores stayed that way to help the falcons keep their hopes of qualifying from the group stages high. Any point at all against France in the final group stage and Nigeria could be looking at proceeding from the group stages for the first time since 1999.
The next match saw us visit Valenciennes for a showdown between Group B’s top teams, Germany and Spain. Both teams entered the game with 3 points already and a win for anyone of them could guarantee a spot in the round of 16. Already things weren’t looking too good for the Germans who were without their captain and star player Marozsan but in the end that didn’t seem to matter as the Germans got away with another 1-0 win and all 3 points.
It was Spain who began threatening at goal anyway, with an effort from Nahikari Garcia in the 14th minute that was just too wide. More efforts were made at goal with the Germans being on target more and just before half time Sara Daebritz was able to tuck in a rebound to put Germany ahead. A few more chances were seen for both sides in the second half but none were good enough to cause problems and the match ended just as it began in the second half. Now Germany sits comfortably at the top of Group B with some assurances of getting into the round of 16 stages. Spain would have to win or at least draw against China in the final group stage match to advance from the group stage.
The day ended with an amazing fixture where the hosts France faced Norway. As with the second match of the day, these two teams started the game with equal 3 points. It was France who got ahead less than a minute into the second half through a Valerie Gauvin tap-in.
It seemed to be a day of own goals as a few minutes later, French defender Wendie Renard tapped a low cross into her own net to level the scores. Heartbreak came for Norway in the 67th minute when Referee Bibiana Steinhaus overturned a goal-kick decision to grant the French a penalty instead after reviewing an incident involving Ingrid Engen of Norway and French left-back Marion Torrent. Eugenie Le Sommer stepped up to take the penalty and didn’t miss. The Norwegians made further attempts to force the match to end in a draw but were unsuccessful. They would have to get points from their final match against South Korea if they want to qualify for the next stages. With the form and talent on display for Norway, we expect that they should progress.
Are you looking forward to Day 7 of the tournament?
Article By: Lucy Ukwa, @afrolucy