Canada, Nigeria tie in their 2023 World Cup opener: How Chiamaka Nnadozie came up big for Super Falcons

Canada and Nigeria played to a 0-0 draw in the teams’ opening match in the 2023 Women’s World Cup on Friday. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Both Canada and Nigeria have one point in Group B. Australia leads the group with three points after defeating Ireland 1-0 in its tournament opener.
  • Canada’s captain Christine Sinclair took a penalty kick that was saved by Nigeria goalie Chiamaka Nnadozie in the 49th minute. If made, Sinclair, 40, would’ve become the oldest player in men’s or women’s soccer to score a goal in a World Cup match.
  • Sinclair was subbed off in the 71st minute for just the second time ever in 22 World Cup matches.

The Athletic’s instant analysis:

Nnadozie stars

Nnadozie has been key to Paris FC’s rise up the Division 1 Feminine table in France over the past two seasons, and she got the chance to show a bigger audience her talents on the biggest stage for Nigeria against Canada. Her save of Sinclair’s penalty was the big highlight, but she was sensational all game, regularly claiming passes into the box before they could even turn into shots.

It’s likely that Nnadozie was in line for a move to one of the world’s biggest clubs before this match, but if any of them had failed to take notice beforehand, they’ll certainly be aware of her now. — McCauley

Canada clearly missing Jessie Fleming

Chelsea midfielder and two-time Canada Soccer player of the year Jessie Fleming didn’t take the pitch after being limited in training in the build-up due to an injury. Fleming did dress, but Canada manager Bev Priestman clearly didn’t feel like it made sense to put her into the game.
Without its best central midfielder, Canada lacked creativity through the middle and struggled to prevent Nigeria’s fast counter attacks.

It’s tough to envision Canada making a deep run in this tournament if Fleming doesn’t get healthy. — McCauley

Nigeria survives big suspensions

Due to carryover suspensions from the Africa Cup of Nations, Nigeria was especially thin in midfield for this match, with presumed starters Rasheedat Ajibade and Halimatu Ayinde unavailable for the World Cup opener.

As a result, 19-year-old Deborah Abiodun was handed just her fourth international cap. She held her own through most of the match, but was handed a red card for a dangerous tackle in stoppage time.

A point against the Olympic gold medalists without two starting midfielders is a great result for Nigeria, and it’ll feel like it can win its remaining group stage games with Ajibade and Ayinde returning to the lineup. — McCauley


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(Photo: FIFA / FIFA via Getty Images)

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