2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup: Norway vs Nigeria
Date: Saturday, June 8
Venue: Stade Auguste-Delaune II — Reims, France
Nine-time African champions Nigeria and Norway face off in their 2019 Women’s World Cup group stage opener on Saturday as part of Group A action.
With France beating South Korea 4-0 in the opener on Friday, both teams face an opportunity to go into Matchday 2 with a three-point edge when it comes to a spot in the knockout stage.
Norway is a country with a rich history but one that hasn’t lived up to its big name over the last several tournaments, while Nigeria has the speed and technique to compete, but the discipline isn’t always there.
Despite having the world’s best female footballer working as a TV pundit instead of in their team, Norway are expected to launch their World Cup campaign with an easy victory against Nigeria.
Ada Hegerberg, who plays for Champions League holders Lyon – she scored a hat-trick in this year’s final against Barcelona – is currently in possession of the Ballon d’Or Feminin and her absence will be huge for the Scandinavian country, who were world champions in 1995.
Not injured or suspended, 23-year-old Hegerberg, who recently married former Celtic and Wigan defender Thomas Rogne, has refused to play for Norway since September 2017 because she feels her national federation treats female players inadequately compared to their male counterparts.
Nigeria won the WAFU Cu0 competition in Africa last month in which their results included a 15-0 victory against Niger, but with all due respect they appear to be making up the numbers in France.
The quartet of Asisat Oshoala, Onome Ebi, Desire Oparanozie and Francisca Ordega will lead the charge for them.
Norway: Champions of 1995, they haven’t been back to the final since. A group stage exit in 2011 and a round of 16 exit in 2015 has lowered expectations. They are still a strong team but far from a threat to win it all. Expect them to have a little trouble early in this one.
Nigeria: They hope to be the first team from Africa to make a big splash at a women’s World Cup, but they are going to have to be perfect to do that. Likely facing a first-round exit, no African team has ever made the semifinals of a Women’s World Cup. Nigeria has speed and technical ability, but questions at the back will likely see them concede quite a lot of goals.
September 17 2000 (neutral venue): Norway 3-1 Nigeria
June 6 1995 (neutral venue): Norway 8-0 Nigeria
Norway have not drawn any of their last 19 matches.
Nine of their last 11 games contained over 2.5 goals.
Nigeria have won nine of their last 10 games