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Seven Key Observations In Super Falcons' Professional 0:0 Draw Against Canada

The Super Falcons produced a sturdy and professional display this morning as they held heavyweight Canada to a highly respectable goalless draw in their world cup curtain raiser.

Below are my 7 observations:

1, I can understand why some observers criticized aspects of Onumonu's game. She played her winger role more like a second striker, cutting in to unleash shots or deliver inswingers. This often left Oshoala isolated at times and it starved the Super Falcons of width as her interpretation of the role contracted and shrunk the pitch rather than expanding the grass. She was unlikely to run to the byline to deliver crosses.

It is her own interpretation of that role which worked as it caused the Canadians problems. It succeeded in creating openings on the inside where she unleashed a ferocious shot and troubled the Canadians severally.

2, Individually, our defenders were error-prone at times. But collectively, they were as solid as a rock and as sound as bell.They succeeded in supporting each other with the likes of Ordega and Ucheibe providing additional defensive buffers.

3, Oshoala is an out-and-out centre forward, full stop. The combination of Onumonu drifting in and playing more like a second striker and seeking to score herself and Ordega being more preoccupied with team shape, formational structural integrity and defensive discipline, Oshoala was effectively starved of service.

The sort of long balls from deep that she loves to feed on like a hawk were also few and far between although Alozie and Abiodun tried on occasion to produce those balls.

Individually, Oshoala's game was tamed, but as a collective effort, she was solid. She worked tirelessly for the team and her presence and reputation alone were enough to keep the Canadian defenders on their toes.

The problem Oshoala faced was that  the Super Falcons (as an outfit) were insular, gritty, narrow and compressed in effectively containing and stifling the Canadians. This approach worked wonders for Nigeria (as it helped to produce the remarkable 0:0 result) but it is not entirely fertile ground for Oshoala's more open and expensive game to thrive.

4, Nnadozie is a world class goalkeeper. Her penalty saving heroics kept Nigeria in the tie. Such compelling outputs will be crucial for Nigeria to make progress from the group.

5, Toni Payne like the rest of the team produced a performance that kept them in shape and hard to break down. Individually though, her moments of brilliance and magic were few and far between. Perhaps her best position is on the flanks but as an attacking midfielder, she was not the tour de force that I had expected.Her teamwork was exemplary even in the absence of individual flair, imagination and creativity.

6, Ucheibe is the heartbeat of Nigeria's midfield. It's almost hard to see any other player produce such emphatic and compelling outputs. She was on hand to help her defenders with robust shielding and tacklings whilst she worked tirelessly to identify and plug any gaps in midfield. She was the proverbial nuisance to Canadian attacking efforts.

7, The Super Falcons were solid and compact. Their performance succeeded in sending the message that they will not be pushovers to any opposition in this tournament. Their level of focus was exemplary as they pulled together in the same direction with symmetry, coordination and organisation.

Even when the individual brilliance of players like Oshoala, Plumptree, Payne and Ordega failed to come to the fore, their collective efforts and team play elevated the overall quality of the team's output.

None of the players looked out of place. Despite her red card, youngster Abiodun posted a solid performance.  Plumptre kept it tight in right fullback, Ordega supported the structure of the team's shape with pristin movements whilst Canadian defenders couldn't afford to take their eyes off Oshoala.

The selling point of their performance was when they were not in possession.  The level of concentration that they employed in frustrating the Canadians can never be overemphasized: it reminded me of Diego Someone's Atletico Madrid.

They showed they could also mix it up by pushing up to trouble the Canadians leading to several near-misses and corner kicks. I felt fully underwritten into the contract of professionalism that their application produced.

Overall, it's a performance I think most fans will be proud of with a positive scoreline to boot.

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