Nigeria’s win against South Korea at the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup was as inspiring as it was relief for the team and especially Head Coach Thomas Dennerby.
The Falcons were on the verge of elimination following a 3-0 defeat in the first group game against Norway.
Previously, the Falcons had only recorded three wins in their seven appearances at the World Cup, the most recent coming in 2011.
But on Wednesday, the 2-0 win ended the winless run and has put the team in contention for a place in the second round, but how did all 14 players do on the day? Here’s our rating.
Chiamaka Nnadozie 7/10
The 18 year-old was one of four changes made after the 3-0 defeat to Norway and she didn’t disappoint.
The former U20 player showed composure and made some fine saves on her way keeping a clean sheet – Nigeria’s third in the history of the competition.
Osinachi Ohale 6/10
A much improved player since the first game against Norway where she turned the ball into her own net. Ohale was the sweeper against South Korea and she kept it clean.
She executed to near perfection her task; making timely tackles and forming an almost impregnable defensive partnership with Onome Ebi.
But, there were a few nervy moments when the zonal marking system crumbled and other times she lagged due to fatigue, yet overall she was above average against a highly rated Korean team.
Onome Ebi 7/10
The 36 year-old started off making a few nervy clearance and poor decisions, but she found the balance much later in the game and marshaled the defence covering on all sides of the wall.
Ngozi Ebere 7/10
Almost flawless on Wednesday, Ebere was a defensive stalwart as much as she also posed a threat down the flanks.
She made bursting runs and some useful crosses, all part of her signature moves against the Koreans.
Desire Oparanozie 7/10
She did everything a captain and a forward would have done on the day, but was denied a perfect game by the South Korea goalkeeper, who managed to put a hand to stop a goal bound header from Oparanozie.
She saw 90 minutes on Wednesday, obviously because she impressed the Coach and her presence on the pitch was a threat at all times to the opponents; whether defending or transitioning.
Rita Chikwelu 8/10
Spotting the number 10 jersey, she was indeed Nigeria’s midfield coordinator whether the team was attacking or had to defend from the middle.
She was solid in tackles and may be a bit too aggressive at times, but she sent a clear message to the opponents, they’ll have to pass through her to stand a chance.
Importantly, she contributed to the first goal of the game; it was her pass from range spotting Oparanozie that was turned into the net by South Korean defender, Kim Doyeon.
Asisat Oshoala 8/10
She had a difficult game miscuing passes, poor decisions on her final balls she also struggled with the pace of the Koreans and was caught napping a few times on her defensive duties.
But, when it mattered most, a strong and determined play saw Oshoala deliver the decisive blow with a brilliant goal.
That singular deed made her 83 minutes on the turf worth the while.
Chinaza Uchendu 7/10
She was lively, making incursive runs and was a handful for the Korean defenders.
Although she only got 65 minutes, the midfielder proved she deserved more game time and as far as Nigeria progresses in the competition.
Ngozi Okobi 6/10
She made up the midfield triangle and showed her class in helping create for the team in transition.
She wasn’t particularly effective on the defensive end, but her experience helped the team survive a few nervy moments.
Francisca Ordega 8/10
She played 80 minutes, but she her work rate was enormous and yet again a stand out player on this occasion.
Ordega covered on the right flank as a wing for the from three and complimented the back four; throwing her body into challenges, it’s a surprise she got through without a major knock.
Chidinma Okeke 8/10
An assist and some bold play from the back, turning defensive situations to an advantage, Okeke continued to impress from game 1.
While her most notable play was providing Oshoala with a well timed pass, her man-on-man marking skills will keep improving with her confidence and composure.
Halimatu Ayinde 6/10
A box-to-box midfielder with a penchant for making timely tackles in one on one situations, Ayinde was introduced to bring some stability to the midfield.
She replaced Uchendu to take some of the heat off the midfield and reduce the defensive work load on Chikwelu – and she ticked it.
Anam Imo 5/10
She only saw 10 minutes of play, but her class was on display each time she had the ball.
Imo replaced Ordega in a like for like change, but she brought calm and control to Nigeria’s attacking play and had a crack on goal late on.
Uchenna Kanu 5/10
Kanu is one of the players to look out for in the Falcons, but the team’s steep challenge to reach the next round might limit her opportunities in France.
She nonetheless showed a glimpse, playing fearlessly and with the confidence that precedes her age at 21 in her debut world cup.