On 10 June 1995, at the Karlstad City Stadium in Sweden, England’s Three Lionesses edged the Super Falcons of Nigeria 3-2 in one of the final group phase matches of the 2nd FIFA Women’s World Cup finals in that country.
That year, as was the case at the inaugural edition of the competition in China four years earlier, there were only 12 finalists.
The narrow loss, coupled with the eight-goal trashing by Norway and 3-3 draw with Canada earlier in the competition, saw the African champions exit the competition at group stage.
On Monday, 7th August 2023, both teams will clash again, this time, at the biggest-ever FIFA Women’s World Cup finals taking place in Australia and New Zealand (with 32 teams), and at the first knock-out round of the tournament.
To reach this stage, England defeated Haiti and Denmark 1-0 each, before spanking China (1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup finalists) 6-1 on Tuesday.
Although the Falcons pipped England 1-0 in a friendly in Norwich (England) on 23 July 2002 and then spanked the Three Lionesses 3-0 in another friendly in Reading (also in England) on 22 April 2004, the Nigerian girls feel they need to turn England back at the biggest stage, which is the World Cup.
Adaku Okoroafor and Rita Nwadike netted for Nigeria that day in Sweden. In the friendly match in Norwich, rapid winger Patience Avre got the only goal, and in Reading two years later, a Perpetua Nkwocha brace followed a goal by Rita Nwadike as Nigeria pumped the Three Lionesses in front of their own fans.
“The World Cup is the biggest stage and we just have to do it here,” assistant coach Ann Chiejine, who was in goal that evening in Karlstad, told thenff.com. Chiejine is one of Randy Waldrum’s assistants at the biggest-ever FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.
Attacking midfielder Toni Payne, said: “Anything can happen. We just have to go onto the pitch and do our best. We want to win and reach the next stage.”
The stage is set at the Lang Park on Monday evening, from 5.30pm Australia time (8.30am Nigeria) for one of the most anticipated Round of 16 games at this global spectacle Down Under.
The nine-time African champions are unbeaten in their last six international games, from beating Costa Rica at the Revelation Cup in Mexico in February, to defeating Haiti and New Zealand in a tournament in April in Turkey. At the World Cup, they have drawn with Canada and Republic of Ireland and beaten Australia’s Matildas.
England have lost one of their last six games – a 0-2 defeat by Australia in April. They drew with Brazil in April, and with Portugal in July, but have won their three matches at the ongoing World Cup.