…may face England, Denmark in knockout stage
For the third time in nine appearances at the Women’s World Cup, the Super Falcons are through to the round of 16 of the ongoing tournament in Australia and New Zealand after an impressive display in the group stages, Picshitz Sports Extra reports.
Nigeria booked their spot in the last 16 after a goalless draw against the Republic of Ireland in their last group game in Brisbane on Monday, becoming the only African side to finish the round unbeaten.
Nigeria drew 0-0 with Canada in their first game and followed it up with a stunning 3-2 win over co-hosts Australia to take control of their destiny, before finishing the job with Monday’s stalemate.
Randy Waldrum’s ladies finished second in Group B with five points, one point behind co-hosts Australia, who thumped Canada 4-0 in their last group game, to move ahead of the Falcons.
The Falcons will know their round of 16 foes — Group D winners — who are likely going to be European champions England or Denmark on Tuesday (today).
Other African countries Zambia, South Africa and Morocco were beaten in the group stages. While Zambia are already eliminated, South Africa and Morocco still have the chances of joining Nigeria in the last 16.
Reflecting on the team’s remarkable achievement going through the group stage undefeated, Waldrum acknowledged the magnitude of the task.
“First of all, I didn’t know that I was the first to take our team through the group stage undefeated. I did know it was a huge task to do that. I mean, when you look at the Olympic gold medallists and obviously Australia and Ireland as well, if you would have asked me before the tournament, realistically what the odds of doing that, I probably wouldn’t have believed,” Waldrum said at the post-match presser.
“But I think really, and I keep saying it, it’s a testament to these players, they’ve not been given everything that maybe other federations have, but once they got the opportunity to get here, they put everything into it.”
While they await their round of 16 opponents, Waldrum says the team’s journey is far from over.
“I just feel like they all believe we’re destined for something special in this World Cup. I don’t think our journey is over, and I think we’ll be very, very prepared for whoever it is that we’re going to play next week. So, I just think they have that belief and I give the credit to the players. I just think it’s an amazing group of women.”
Following their qualification into the round of 16, each member of the Falcons team is guaranteed a whopping $60,000 (N46.2m as at Monday’s exchange rate).
Every participating player was guaranteed $30,000 for appearing in the group stage and the Falcons will now top it up with another $30,000 when they file out in the round of 16 next Monday.
The 2023 Women’s World Cup is the biggest edition ever, with FIFA expanding the tournament to 32 teams and also increasing the prize money significantly.
FIFA President Gianni Infantino announced before the start of the tournament a $110m money pool, which will be shared among the teams, as well as other entitlements of organising the tournament.
Further progress into the quarter-finals will attract an additional $30,000 just as the money rises significantly to $165,000 in the semi-finals stage.
The players who win the Women’s World Cup will pocket the sum of $270,000 each, the runners-up will get $195,000 while the third-placed side will be given $180,000.