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Unbeaten Nigeria's Super Falcons Perch In Round of 16; May Face England, Denmark or China

July, 31 2023.

The Super Falcons of Nigeria are safely through to the Round of 16 of the on-going 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup, after a pulsating goalless draw with already eliminated Republic of Ireland women, at the Sun Stadium, in Brisbane, on Monday.

The draw means the Falcons qualified as Group B runners-up, one point behind the Matildas of Australia, who topped the group on 6 points, after upsetting reigning Olympic Champions Canada 4-0, at Melbourne's Rectangular Stadium.

The Aussies had defeat steering them in the face, after losing 2-3 to Nigeria last Thursday, but the co-host ranked 10th by FIFA, put up a spirited display and scored a couple of goals in either half against Canada, the highest ranked team (7th) in Group B, to record the sounding victory.

Their progression in the expanded tournament, which is the first to have as many as 32 teams; to a reasonable extent guarantees the frenzy and spectacle of the Mundial, after New Zealand - the other co-host exited from Group A, on inferior goals difference.

As it stands, Nigeria who have been to every World Cup started in 1999; will in Round of 16 slug it out with the winner of Group D; which can still be won by any of England, Denmark and China.

The record nine-time African Champions who are in the knockout rounds for only the third time in their chequred history, had prior to the draw with Ireland, lost six of their final group games at the world cup, except in 1999 when they thrashed Denmark with 2-0; and Canada who they edged 1-0 in 2011.

Speaking at the post match conference, Coach Randy Waldrum said he was not satisfied with his attack-line and creativity in the team's midfield. The American however praised his ladies for the progress made despite so many distractions, and remaining undefeated.

For Canada, their exit is makes them the biggest casualties of the world cup, and they head home with 4 points from their first two games, alongside the Ireland Women, who returns to Dublin with just a point.

Elsewhere, Japan rumped into the second round by put in an attacking and shooting master-class , with 100% precision to dump out European powerhouse Spain 4-0, with only four shots on target.

Japan who are looking to win the world cup for a third time, advanced as Group C winners, ahead of Spain; while the Copper Queens of Zambia ended their campaign on a high by thrashing Costa Rica 3-1.

With both sides having lost their first two group games, the match was a dead rubber; but produced a piece of record for the books, as Zambia captain Barbara Banda scored the 1000th goal of the women's World Cup.

Banda also wrote her name into Olympic women's football in Japan, when she became the first player in the history of the tournament to score back-to-back hat-tricks.

In a related development, Nigeria's Abiodun Deborah will have to miss the Falcon's second round game, against a yet to be determined opponent, after the red card the midfielder bagged in the match against Canada, was upgraded to three suspensions by FIFA, after a review to the incident, which initially attracted a match ban.

She will miss the game against Ireland and the subsequent Round of 16 clash should Nigeria advance to the next round, reports.

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