Chiamaka Nnadozie was the hero as the Super Falcons held out for a goalless draw against Canada at the ongoing FIFA Women’s World Cup.
Overall, it was a heroic performance by every member of the Nigerian team, but Nnadozie stood out after saving a second half penalty and ensuring that the most successful African team of all-time earned a point in Melbourne despite finishing the game with a player less.
The Canadians, who saw captain Christine Sinclair miss a second-half penalty kick, are tipped to go far in the tournament having won the gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021, beating the United States in the semifinals along the way.
The Super Falcons, on the other hand, weren’t given much of a chance in a group also comprising of co-hosts Australia and Ireland, but Nigeria are 11-time Africa Cup of Nations winners and have qualified for every women’s World Cup.
The Super Falcons have also advanced beyond the group stage on two occasions and will be looking confident of reaching the knockout rounds after their heroic draw against the highly-rated Canadians.
That result was no easy feat for Randy Waldrum’s Super Falcons, who entered the tournament ranked 40th in the world by FIFA, and who finished the game with 10 players after Deborah Abiodun was shown a red card for a dangerous challenge on Canada’s Ashley Lawrence six minutes into stoppage time.
That was not the big moment of the game though.
The big moment in Melbourne was Nnadozie’s penalty save against Canada’s Sinclair, who is the world’s all-time leading international scorer, but who sent her effort toward the low right corner where the Super Falcons captain dove to first parry the effort, before further denying the 40-year-old Canadian forward.
The result left fans of the Super Eagles delighted but the happier fans were probably the Australians who trooped into the match venue, given that it left their country atop Group B in the early going, following Australia’s 1-0 win over Ireland.
Next up for the Super Falcons are the Aussies, while Canada Nigeria will take on Ireland.