An own goal by Korea Republic and striker Asisat Oshoala’s goal helped Nigeria’s Super Falcons get their 2019 World Cup campaign back on track with a hard-fought 2-0 win over the Asians in their second match of the tournament on Wednesday at the Stade del Alpes in Grenoble.
With the win, the Falcons ended a six-game winless run at the World Cup. They last won a game at the 2011 edition in Germany, when they defeated Canada 1-0.
Head coach of the team, Thomas Dennerby, made three changes to the squad that started the opening game against Norway with goalkeeper Tochukwu Oluehi, defender Chidinma Okeke and Halimatu Ayinde making way for Chiamaka Nnadozie, Faith Michael and Chinaza Uchendu respectively.
The Falcons started the game brightly and were rewarded in the 29th minute when defender Kim Doyeon turned the ball into her own net but the Nigerians had to wait for VAR’s intervention to ascertain that captain Desire Oparanozie’s hand had no contact with the ball.
The Falcons started the second half the way they ended the first 45 minutes with Oparanozie’s glancing header in the 54th minute hitting the roof of the net.
South Korea thought they had gotten an equaliser in the 58th minute when Lee Guemmin slotted home from goalkeeper Chiamaka Nnadozie’s parried effort, but the goal was correctly flagged for offside.
Oshoala, who was also voted the Player-of-The-Match, extended the Falcons lead in the 75th minute after being through by substitute Chidinma Okeke. The Barcelona forward evaded her marker before beautifully rounding off Korea goalkeeper Kim Minjung to slot in from an acute angle.
Falcon’s goalkeeper Nnadozie ensured she kept her side in the game with a series of saves as the Asians mounted pressure on the African champions.
Reacting to the win, Oshoala said she was only there to do her job.
“At first, I think we were a little bit scared of losing and going out. But after a while, we just decided to go for it. I always say that I’m never under pressure – I just go on the pitch and do my job.
“It’s an 11-player game and I just look to enjoy the game, have fun and do the right thing for my team. The group is wide open now. We just have to concentrate now on making sure we get the points we need against France.”
Dennerby praised his players for their discipline.
“Today (Wednesday), our discipline was better than against Norway – no mistakes at all. If we can be as compact as we were today, don’t let teams overplay us in midfield and find passes through, we know we’ll get opportunities for players like Asisat.
“The players followed our match plan and that’s all you can really ask. Now we go to play France, a really good team. If we can come out with a point, everyone would be extremely happy. But you can’t just go to defend – you need to know what to do when you win the ball back. And hopefully we can have a little bit of success.”
Nigeria will be hoping for a favourable result in their last group match when they face hosts France at the Roazhon Park, in Rennes, on June 17.