Since first appearing at the World Cup in a blaze of colour in 1991, Nigeria have made themselves a regular presence on the biggest stage.
France 2019 will be their 8th appearance in the tournament, and they usually make their mark in one way or another.
The names of Mercy Akide, Florence Omagbemi, Stella Mbachu, Nkiru Okosieme, Ann Chiejine, Patience Avre, Maureen Mmadu and Rita Nwadike are etched in the history books for Nigeria due largely to their exploits at the World Cup, and the class of 2019 will be desperate to join such exalted company.
Here, Futbalgalore.com assesses Nigeria’s chances at this summer’s tournament in France.
Group A is one of the more intriguing prospects at this summer’s World Cup, with France clear favourites to claim top spot but Norway, South Korea and Nigeria all laying a strong claim for second place too.
The Super Falcons take on Norway and South Africa in their opening two matches, and they will hope that positive results in those will take some of the pressure off their closing contest with France’s Eugenie Le Sommer.
June 8: Norway vs Nigeria (9pm, Stade Auguste-Delaune, Reims)
June 12: Nigeria vs South Korea (3pm, Stade des Alpes, Grenoble)
June 17: Nigeria vs France (9pm, Roazhon Park, Rennes)
HOW THEY QUALIFIED
The 2018 Africa Women Cup of Nations (AWCON) doubles as the African qualifiers to the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup. The top three teams qualified for the World Cup in France.
Nigeria were the defending champions. They won the tournament for their third consecutive and 9th overall AWCON title.
Coach Dennerby will be happy with the momentum his side have built up, as they recently recorded back to back wins over Haladas and Pomurje respectively.
Goalkeepers: Tochukwu Oluehi (Rivers Angels); Alaba Jonathan (Bayelsa Queens); Chiamaka Nnadozie (Rivers Angels)
Defenders: Osinachi Ohale (Vaxjo DFF, Sweden); Ngozi Ebere (Arna Bjornar, Norway); Onome Ebi (Henan Huisanhang, China); Faith Michael (Pitea IF, Sweden); Chidinma Okeke (FC Robo)
Midfielders: Rita Chikwelu (Krstianstand DFF, Sweden); Ngozi Okobi-Okeoghene (Eskiltuna United, Sweden); Evelyn Nwabuoku (Rivers Angels); Ogonna Chukwudi (Djurgardens IF, Sweden); Halimatu Ayinde (Eskiltuna United, Sweden); Amarachi Okoronkwo (Nasarawa Amazons)
Forwards: Desire Oparanozie (En Avant Guingamp, France); Anam Imo (Malmo FC Rosengard, Sweden); Asisat Oshoala (FC Barcelona, Spain); Chinaza Uchendu (SC Braga, Portugal); Uchenna Kanu (Southeastern University, USA); Rasheedat Ajibade (Alvadsnes IL, Norway); Francisca Ordega (Shanghai W. FC); Alice Ogebe (Rivers Angels); Chinwendu Ihezuo (Henana Huisanhang, China)
STAR PLAYER – Asisat Oshoala
Oshoala has a rich history of professional clubs with stints at Arsenal, Liverpool, Dalian Quanjian and Barcelona.
She has won three AWCON titles, one English FA Women’s Cup, one
Chinese Women’s Super League shield,
three CAF Best Player Awards, the maiden BBC Women’s Footballer of the Year gong, African Women’s Youth Player of the Year, African Women’s Championship Golden Ball, FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup Golden Boot,
FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup Golden Ball And Chinese Women’s Super League Top scorer.
Renowned for scoring goals from distance with her powerful her foot, Oshoala was made a Member of the Order of the Niger by President of Nigeria Goodluck Jonathan in 2014. On 8 June 2015 in Winnipeg, Canada, Oshoala opened her senior FIFA Women’s World Cup account by scoring Nigeria’s second goal in a 3-3 draw with Sweden.
MANAGER – Thomas Dennerby
Dennerby, current coach of the Nigeria women’s national football team also known as Super Falcons was previously a player in Hammarby IF and Spårvägens IF, as well as the national U21 team. He has also worked as a police officer. He is the former national team coach of the Swedish women’s side. As a coach, he won Allsvenskan with Hammarby IF in 2001, and Damallsvenskan with Djurgården/Älvsjö.
He led the Falcons to the 2018 AWCON and 2019 WAFU Cup of Nations.
WORLD CUP RECORD
Best finish: Last 8 (1999)
Nigeria struggled for form in the 1991 and 1995 editions of the Mundial.
At the 1999 World Cup, the Falcons beat Denmark and North Korea in the group games, and despite a 7-1 hammering from the hosts, they still qualified for the quarter-finals to play Brazil when they lost 4-3.
In subsequent editions, the Falcons crashed out in the first round of the competition.
Overall the Falcons have played 22 World Cup matches, winning three, drawing three and losing 16 while scoring 18 goals and conceding 56.
Nigeria will not go into their group as one of the favourites to progress, but will they will fancy their chances of going through.
VERDICT: First round exit.