Nigeria’s Super Falcons gave their World Cup chances a glimmer of hope following their hard fought win against co-host Australia at Brisbane Stadium on Tuesday morning.
Australia scored first when Emily van Egmond converted Caitlin Foord’s pass. But Nigeria equalised soon afterwards with Uchenna Kanu’s calm finish, before Osinachi Ohale’s header made it 2-1.
Asisat Oshoala scored after a mix-up between Australia’s Alanna Kennedy and Mackenzie Arnold and Nigeria held on, despite Kennedy scoring late on.
Nigeria move top of Group B, level with Canada on 4 points, while Australia are a point behind both before the last matches in the section on Monday.
Australia face Olympic champions Canada in Melbourne and may need a victory to guarantee a place in the knockout stages, while Nigeria play already-eliminated Republic of Ireland at the same time in Brisbane.
However, there is a few things the Super Falcons must avoid against Ireland as they seek passage to the Round of 16.
If the Super Falcons win by a good goal margin, then it doesn’t matter what happens in the other group game between Australia and Canada, as Nigeria might still top the group and go through to the last-16 and therefore face the runners-up of Group A.
However, if the Irish spring a shock upset over the Super Falcons, then Australia will top the group and play the runners-up of Group A.
If Nigeria is held to a draw by Ireland, then things might look tricky for the Super Falcons as they will be tied on 5points with Canada if they draw against Australia.
FIFA’s rules state that when two teams are tied on points, then goal difference will determine which nation goes through.
Nigeria could still finish top of Group B as the Super Falcons currently hold a one-goal advantage when it comes to goal difference. Yet in the situation in which they lose to Ireland and Australia draw with Canada, the scoreline in each game will play a huge factor.
For example, if Nigeria were to lose by more than one goal and Australia draw, then the Matildas will have a superior goal difference to their rivals.
If Nigeria lose by one goal and Australia draw, things get even more complicated.
FIFA’s rules state that when teams are tied on points and goal difference, then the total number of goals scored during the group stage will be the determining factor.
Both teams are currently tied on three goals apiece in the tournament.
So, if Nigeria lose by one goal and Australia draw, the Matildas will need to score more goals in their match then the Super Falcons to go through.
A point for Canada would see them top the group on five points. Although if Nigeria draw or beat Ireland in this permutation, then they’d remain top of the group.
Best for Nigeria is if the Matildas suffer defeat to Canada, then it’s all over. Australia’s home World Cup will come to an abrupt end and they’ll be sent packing.
Canada would move to 7 points while Nigeria are already one point ahead of them in the group, so even a defeat would see them through to the next round.