Wednesday, June 15, 2011

2011 WWC -Nigeria against 3 top 10 Countries In Group A,Sizing Up The Competition

The two African representatives at the 2011 FIFA women's world cup to be held in Germany,find themselves in the company of very tough opponents. Nigeria in Group A and Equatorial Guinea in Group D. Nigeria ranked 27th will wrestle against 3 of the world's Top 10 countries.
Let's take a  look at  what Nigeria is up against.


World Titles : 2
FIFA Ranking: 2nd
World Cup Appearances :6
Strengths : Attack and Midfield
Weakness : Defence
Players to watch: Prinz,Bajramaj,Angerer('keeper),Popp,Garefrekes.
Coming into the world cup as defending champions and hosts gives the Germans home court advantage however they have a very potent side capable of hurting any team they play against. As group favorites,Germany will parade an array of  seasoned world cup veteran stars led by captain, Birgit Prinz  and the world's best goal keeper in the person of Nadine Angerer, which makes them a very dangerous and tough team to play against.In the midfield will be Kerstin Garefrekes,a fast and strong player capable of changing the tempo of any game with her blistering pace from the flanks and her incisive passes.

Coach Silvia Neid has at her disposal a young and gifted supporting cast who will  be deployed along side the veterans.Fatmire Bajramaj,Alexandra Popp and Kim Kulig among others are multi-faceted players who are set to cause havoc when unleashed.Germany is a well rounded team consisting of brilliant players and all things being equal there is no stopping them. Bearing in mind the 8-0 hammering Nigeria suffered at the hands of the German machine in November,2010 ,Eucharia Uche will have to dig deeper into her well of tactical knowledge to device a method of either containing the marauding Germans who are poised to go on a rampage, or a means of getting past the defense with Nadine Angerer waiting in goal.


World Cup Appearances : 5
World Titles : 0
FIFA Ranking: 6th
World Cup Appearances:5
Players to watch : Sinclair,Timko,LeBlanc('keeper)
Strengths : Attack
Weakeness: Defence
Canada has been on a steady rise since coach Carolina Morace took over in 2009,in fact Canada has been playing their best soccer since. Like they say, a coach's character  will always rub off of his/her players and so has Morace's.Canada hopes to improve upon their 4th place finish at the world cup in 2003,their best finish yet. Under the leadership of captain, Christine Sinclair,a player with so much experience,the most capped with 155 international caps and 116 goals in attack, flanked by Melissa Tancredi and Sophie Schmidt,there is bound to be fireworks whenever these three have the ball at their feet.

Canada will present a relentless attack with Brittany Timko playing  the role of the enforcer in midfield. In goal,the Canadians will call upon the experience and capable safe hands of Karina LeBlanc to handle any sticky situations that may slip by Moscato,Zurer,Wilkinson and Gayle in defense. The Archiles heel of the Canadians defensive game,  has been their lack of focus in transitional play. They also find it difficult dealing with set pieces a problem that has plagued them for quite sometime. However with their new found belief and the hardwork of Coach Morace trust Canada to go into this competition as the"spoilers" ready to throw a wrench into the hopes of the likes of Germany,France and Nigeria. Against Nigeria,a game of equals is expected with the most tactically disciplined side bound to carry the day but Nigeria has a slight edge where technical ability is concerned.

World Cup Appearances : 2
World Titles : 0
FIFA Ranking: 7th
Players to watch : Sonia Bompastor,Sandrine Soubeyrand,Carine Abily
Strengths :Defence
Weakeness :Midfield

Having won 11 of their 12 world cup qualifiers,France are in no means push overs.With 80% of the players drawn from French UEFA women's champions Lyon,France will draw inspiration from Sonia Bompastor,Camille Abily and Louisa Necib who beat German champions, Potsdam by 2-0.With a strong defensive back line comprising of  Laura Georges,Wendy Renard,Sabrina Brigier and Laure Lepailleur,the French team has a solid defense but an occasional  soft center when captain Sandrine Soubeyrand doesn't get the needed support.

The French midfield although not as potent as the others in their group,compensates with a strong forward line built around vibrant and  enterprising Gaetane Thiney.On their day,Camille Abily and Sonia Bompastor could mesmerize,disorganize and dismantle the strongest of defenses but we are yet to see what surprises coach Bruno Bini has in his cauldron of tactical tricks as he goes against a relentless opposition.  As a collective unit,the French are a hard nut to crack and against Nigeria,a team with immense individually brilliant players,coach Uche will have to maintain a united front where players work for each other in order to break the spirit of the French so as to ensure victory.

World Cup Appearances : 6
World Titles : 0
FIFA Ranking: 27th
Players to watch : Perpetua Nkwocha,Ebere Orji,Rita Chikwelu
Strength :Attack
Weakness : Defence

Nigeria will go into this competition with one thing on their minds and that is, get past the first stage taking it a game at a time. In warm up matches against the Czech Republic who the beat by  1-0,Austrian club Wacker Innsbruck,7-0,drawing 1-1 with Austria and an upcoming game against Slovakia,the Super Falcons seem to be on track going into the world cup.There is no doubt about the talent in the Nigerian team looking at the players at Uche's disposal but the question on most minds is how they will measure up against defending world champions Germany especially and as to whether they can scale through the group stages,knowing Nigeria's track record at previous world cups.

Perhaps Eucharia Uche will count on her German counterpart,Obeliers to brew a concoction for dismantling the German machine.The whole world is eager to see how Nigeria responds to Germany's onslaught as they attempt to erase the 8-0 loss from their memory.
This world cup is one for the likes of Nkwocha,Dede,Chikwelu,Ikidi and Mbachu to leave a legacy for the younger generation and it is imperative for them to give their uttermost best for the continent of Africa their country Nigeria and for themselves as players. 

A well orchestrated Nigerian midfield marshaled by Nkwocha and Chikwelu is highly effective and as deadly as the Germans and should Mbachu form a tandem with  Oparanozie or Micheal,expect  a steady flow of goals although an inclusion of Cynthia Uwak in the attacking line up would have added more bite upfront,unfortunately Uwak wont be at this fiesta. Will Uwak's absence affect the Super Falcons ? I hope not.

I am not too confident about the Nigerian defense who tend to slip up when under pressure. In goal, Dede will have a lot on her plate as she organizes her defense.She will also have to be cautious in her handling of aerial balls and her positioning for set pieces. 

History making Eucharia Uche on the other hand has a lot to prove, that, she is capable of  leading her charges at the world stage as well as re-writing the history books as the first African  FEMALE coach under whose watch Nigeria made it to the semi-finals. What a story that would be !

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