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What Must Nigeria Do To Conquer England?

Updated: Aug 5, 2023

Watching aspects of England's three games in the tournament thus far, I think defence is their achilles heel.

Funny that because they have one of the best goalkeepers in the world in Mary Earps who has proven time and again to be capable of bailing out the wall in front of her.

The fact that England conceded just one goal in thier group stage matches doesn't foreclose the fragility they have at the back.

Haiti breached the defence as also Denmark did but again their trusted goalkeeper came to the rescue.

If Oshoala has successfully worked on her precision in training, then she can mount intolerable pressure on that England defence.

Onumonu is never one to compress or exert pressure on opposition defence the way say Ajibade, Monday or Kanu would do. But, paradoxically, Onumonu possesses slightly superior finishing technique when she is in position to pull the trigger.

We have players that can hurt England in front on a good day.

This is one game where I will advocate for Ordega to start. She has the vision and experience to help the team maintain its shape whilst providing invaluable support to defensive efforts.

This game is for true leaders, players who have something to prove, players who have unwavering belief in their ability to go toe to toe with England.

Ordega ticks this box.

Offensive she is not as effective but structurally, she is an invaluable brick within the scaffolding that can help repel the threats of Hemp, James and Co. (so long as she is now more careful with tackles inside the 18 yard box).

If everything goes to plan, England will be in for a unique challenge in Nigeria.

Waldrum, in my view, has given too much away in stating that Nigeria will leverage its athletism, speed and physicality in addition to the now Patented level of organisation. He doesn't want to reveal too much to the enemy.

We need players who can focus on their brief for prolonged period with the big names players in our ranks ready to produce big performances.

Oshoala has to turn up. The players have to feed her. She already showed against Canada and Australia what sort of confusion she can cause in opposition box 18s. But Kudos has to go to the suppliers of those long balls notably Payne and Plumptre.

Since those long balls are Oshoala's bread and butter, they have to be delivered ever more regularly, ever more accurately.

Oshoala must not only see those balls as an opportunity to score from a tight angle, these also provide openings to win penalties and thread passes for a potential assist.

But it is at the back that I worry. Against Australia and Canada, our defence was caught napping at times: where these two teams failed to capitalise, England wouldn't be that generous.

Also, let's be honest, there are certain efforts at goal that are just unstoppable, full stop. The tried and tested cutting edge techniques that England strikers employ are simply jaw dropping. With England strikers, their methods are of the highest level and greatest quality in national team world football at the moment.

Doesn't mean they are unstoppable, no! But our defensive apparatus can't afford to be asleep on the wheel for just one second: one second is all it will take for England to pounce. When Nigeria then becomes desperate to equalise, this will just create opportunity for England to add to their lead.

But Ayinde and Ucheibe are more than capable. Ayinde and Alozie are dailled in. Ordega, Kanu and Ajibade are fully alive to their defensive responsibilities. With these players on top of their game with impeccable levels of concentration, then the England strikers might face more frustration than they bargained for.

I worry about Plumptre, Ogbonna and Demehin to be honest. These three defenders have need credit facilities from other players like Ayinde who are only too happy to loan their support. These three will need to be a lot more assertive on the day.

Simply put, Nigeria do create scoring chances and will do against England. They just need to be razor sharp with finishing. At the back, high level sustained concentration is called for. Elimination of needles mistakes and ability to play players to their strength might see the scale tip in our favour.

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