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2019 World Cup Preview: Nigeria

SB Nation logo SB Nation 5/19/2019 BlasianSays
Francisca Ordega, Rita Chikwelu are posing for a picture © Photo by Samuel Ahmadu/Gallo Images

Frannylovers unite!

Nigeria is the most dominant team in Africa, and has been so since the early 1990s. The Confederation of African Football has had 13 Women’s Cup of Nations tournaments since 1991, and Nigeria has won 11 of them, a number which is more than double their number of total losses at the competition (5).

The Team

Nigeria hasn’t released its 23-woman roster for France, but they have a 27-woman provisional squad:

More than half of the provisional roster, 16 of 27, plies its trade in either Nigeria or Sweden, so even though there are some players of good quality, you’re not likely to have seen them play. When the roster gets pared from 27 to 23, I’m banking on most of the cuts coming from the ten forwards named to the provisional roster.

How They’ve Fared

Nigeria has qualified for all eight World Cups, with their best finish coming in an extra time quarterfinal loss to Brazil in 1999.

How They Qualified

After finishing second in Group B to South Africa, Nigeria needed penalties to beat Group A winner Cameroon in the semifinals to qualify. Beating South Africa on penalties in the final was just icing on the cake.

Group

A, with France, South Korea, and Norway

Player You Know

NWSL fans and readers of this site know Francisca Ordega, former member of the Washington Spirit, and current Shanghai WFC player. She scored nine goals in four seasons for the Spirit before moving to China this off-season. This is (probably) going to be her third World Cup (2011 and 2015), and if she’s left out of the team for some reason, her “Frannylovers” will riot.

Player You’ll Know Soon

While Ordega is the most recognizable name in the US, Asisat Oshoala is making waves internationally. The Barcelona forward became the first African player to score in a UEFA Champions League final, tallying her club’s only goal in a 4-1 loss to Lyon. The 24-year-old has the 2014 U-20 World Cup Golden Boot in her trophy cabinet, along with three African Footballer of the Year awards (2014, 2016 and 2017). On loan from her Chinese parent club, Dalian Quanjian, she scored eight goals in eight appearances for Barcelona, and it seems that Nigeria will go as far as she can take them.

World Cup Outlook

In 2015, only one team that won as many as three points failed to make the knockout stage (Thailand), so it stands to reason that the winner of the Nigeria/South Korea match has a good chance to make it out of their group. Nigeria will probably do that. Probably.

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