CANADA 2015: Fast Facts on Nigeria’s Group D Opponents – Sweden, Australia and USA

Abby Wimbach, FIFA World women's Player of the Year 2012

Most football fans in Nigeria are optimistic that the crop of players in the current Super Falcons team can go all the way to win the world cup come June 2015. They believe that the Nigerian side has depth on it’s roster – Asisat Oshoala, Desire Oparanozie, Courtney Dike, Perpetua Nkwocha and some exceptionally skilled Rivers Angels. But the Nigerian WNT needs intensive and strategic preparations.

Nigeria will face Sweden, Australia and the U.S. in Group D at FIFA women's world cup slated to take place in Canada by June 2015.

The team has about five to six months to prepare and I think the ladies should stay together for at least four months so as to develop team spirit and cohesiveness required for success.

In the period of camping, the team should play some strategic International friendly matches with teams like two times world champions – Germany; the current world champions – Japan, which also defeated Australia in the finals of Asian cup 2014; then Mexico, which gave USA the toughest match up at the Semi Finals of CONCACAF Championship.

The best way to start preparations is to first have an insight about each of the opponents in Nigeria’s group – What are their strength and perhaps, their weakness. I mean Super Falcons coaching crew as well as the players should do an in-depth SWOT analysis of their opponents in Group D. In this article we try to let you have some fast facts about Nigeria’s opponents – Sweden, Australia and USA.

SWEDEN (June 8):
 Current FIFA World Ranking: 5
2014 Women’s World Cup Qualifying: Finished 1st in UEFA Group 4 (10-0-0); 32 GF, 1 GA
Women’s World Cup Finals Appearance: 7 – 1991 (3rd), 1995 (5th), 1999 (6th), 2003 (2nd), 2007 (10th), 2011 (3rd), 2015
Head Coach: Pia Sundhage
Championship Honors: UEFA Women’s Championship (1984)
Leading World Cup Qualifying Scorer: Lotta Schelin (12) 

Lotta Schelin
 Key Players: Nilla Fischer (Wolfsburg), Lotta Schelin (Lyon), Caroline Seger (PSG), Therese Sjögran (FC Rosengard), Kosovare Asllani (PSG)

Fast Facts: Former U.S. Women’s National Team head coach Pia Sundhage is the head coach of her native Sweden … Canada 2015 will be Sweden's seventh appearance at the Women's World Cup, maintaining their perfect record of qualifying … Lost to Germany in the Final in 2003 on a golden goal … Sundhage is highly decorated (two gold medals and FIFA World Coach of the Year Awards while with the USA) but has never coached a team to the World Cup title, finishing second with the USA in 2011

AUSTRALIA (June 12):
Current FIFA World Ranking: 10
2015 Women’s World Cup Qualifying: Finished second in the 2014 AFC Women’s Cup (3-1-1; 9 GF, 5 GA)
Women’s World Cup Finals Appearances: 6 –1995 (12th), 1999 (11th), 2003 (13th), 2007 (7th), 2011 (8th), 2015
Head Coach: Alen Stajcic
Championship Honors: Oceania Champions (1995, 1998, 2003. Note: Australia moved to the AFC on Jan. 1, 2006); Asian Football Confederation Champions (2010)
Leading Women’s World Cup Qualifying Scorers: Katrina Gorry (3), Kate Gill (2)

Katrina Gorry
 Key Players: Lisa De Vanna (Washington Spirit), Caitlin Foord (Sky Blue FC), Katrina Gorry (FC Kansas City), Kate Gill (Perth Glory)

Fast Facts: With five Asian berths up for grabs, Australia comfortably won through to Canada by virtue of a runners-up finish at the 2014 AFC Women’s Asian Cup … The team had endured a tumultuous preparation with Alen Stajcic filling the coaching role on an interim basis following the sudden departure of Hesterine De Reus just prior to the qualifying tournament in Vietnam … Australia saw off Jordan and Vietnam, as well as drawing 2-2 with Japan in the group stage, before defeating Korea Republic 2-1 in the semifinals .. The Matildas came within a whisker of retaining their Asian crown only to fall 1-0 against world champions Japan in the final … The current team defy the traditional stereotype of Australian teams and a pacy youthful side boasts a host of talented ball-players including experienced forwards Lisa De Vanna and Kate Gill.

USA (June 16):
Current FIFA World Ranking: 1
2015 Women’s World Cup Qualifying:  The USA officially clinched a spot in this year’s World Cup with a 3-0 semifinal victory against Mexico on Oct. 24 in the 2014 CONCACAF Women’s Championship. The USA capped off qualifying with a 6-0 win against Costa Rica in the title game on Oct. 26, led by four goals from Wambach.
Women’s World Cup Finals Appearances: The USA is making its seventh appearance in a FIFA Women’s World Cup and is one of seven countries to appear in all seven editions of the tournament, the others being Brazil, Germany, Japan, Nigeria, Norway and Sweden.

Head Coach: Jill Ellis

Championship Honors: The U.S. is the only country to have reached semifinals of every FIFA Women’s World Cup. The USA won in 1991 and 1999.

 Leading Women’s World Cup Qualifying Scorers:

 Key Players: Abby Wambach’s 13 goals in FIFA Women’s World Cup competition rank third all-time. She trails only Brazil’s Marta and Germany’s Birgit Prinz who have 14 goals apiece.

Fast Facts: The U.S. WNT is 27-5-4 all-time in the Women’s World Cup, outscoring its opponents 98-32 in 36 games. The 27 wins, 36 games played and 98 goals scored are all FIFA Women’s World Cup records. The USA’s most lopsided victory in the tournament was a 7-0 win against Chinese Taipei in 1991. Michelle Akers’ five goals against Chinese Taipei are the most in a single match in tournament history. The U.S. holds two other individual records with Kristine Lilly playing a record 30 games in five World Cups and goalkeeper Briana Scurry earning a record 10 shutouts..


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