Nigeria and Canada Women will face each other in their first respective Women's World Cup 2023 game at the Melbourne Rectangular Stadium on Friday. Nigeria have attended all nine World Cup finals, while Canada have appeared at every tournament since missing the inaugural edition in 1991. The super falcons are the lowest-ranked team in their group as they will have to do some magic if they want to qualify for the third time in their World Cup history. Canada, meanwhile, will head into the Women's World Cup 2023 as the reigning Olympic champions after winning gold in Tokyo two years ago.
Nigeria last met with Canada in April 2022 which ended in a 2-2 draw. They have been unable to enjoy similar success in the World Cup, with their best performance at the tournament taking place in 2003 when they finished in fourth place. Nigeria were unable to make it out of the group stage in the next two World Cup finals, before finishing at the quarter-final in their home World Cup in 2015.
In the 2019 tournament, they finished second in the group behind the Netherlands to advance to the last-16 but were narrowly beaten by Sweden, who went on to finish in third position. Canada are the favourites in this game and they would like to kick off the tournament with a win. They may be able to take confidence from the fact that they have won their last two World Cup openers by a 1-0 scoreline.
Chiamaka Nnadozie will likely start in goal for Nigeria. The pair of Oluwatosin Demehin and Onome Ebi as the central defenders will shield her. Payne, Ayinde, and Onyi Echegini are likely to start in the centre of Nigeria's midfield for the opening game. After scoring 27 competitive goals for Barcelona last season, Asisat Oshoala will surely lead the attack for the Super Falcons in the World Cup.
As for Canada, Chelsea midfielder Jessie Fleming might be available for the opener but it's still not confirmed. Christine Sinclair, the all-time leading scorer in men's or women's international football with 190 goals, and the veteran striker will be hoping to add to her tally against Nigeria. Kadiesha Buchanan will gear up with Vanessa Gilles in central defence, while Ashley Lawrence and Allysha Chapman will cover the two wings as full-backs.
Nigeria Women's possible starting lineup:
Nnadozie; Alozie, Demehin, Ebi, Imuran; Okoronkwo, Payne, Ayinde, Echegini, Ajibad; Oshoala
Canada Women's possible starting lineup:
Sheridan; Lawrence, Buchanan, Gilles, Chapman; Grosso, Schmidt, Fleming; Leon, Huitema, Sinclair
Chiamaka Nnadozie; Chapman, Oluwatosin Demehin, Ebi, Lawrence; Jessie Fleming, Onyi Echegini, Payne, Huitema, Ajibad; Sinclair