Matilda’s Outlook Going into Second World Cup Match Against Nigeria

Noah Strang
By:
Noah Strang
27/07/2023
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Australia vs. Nigeria: A look into the Matilda’s Upcoming Match

What to expect from the Matildas in their second Women’s World Cup match with Nigeria tonight in Brisbane. 

News Insights

  • Australia plays Nigeria tonight at 8PM AEST in Brisbane.
  • Matilda’s outlook as we head towards kick-off.
  • Update on Sam Kerr’s health.
  • Other injuries set to test the Matilda’s depth.

As co-hosts of the 2023 Women’s World Cup, Australia got off to a strong start with a win over Ireland. They will look to overcome their injury struggles tonight against a stubborn Nigeria squad who will be drawing confidence from their tie with Canada. 

What to Expect from the Matildas Tonight

The Matildas will square off with Nigeria tonight at 8PM AEST in Brisbane in their second match of the 2023 Women’s World Cup. 

In their opening match against Ireland Australia dominated the ball with 63% possession in the match. However, this possession only led to one goal, from the penalty spot at that. 

In Nigeria’s first match against defending Olympic champions Canada, they were content to concede possession in the middle of the pitch to heavily congest the final third. This was reflected in the statistics as Nigeria had just 33% of the matches possession but were able to limit the Canadians to three shots on goal.

If Nigeria sticks to that style of play against the favoured Matildas, the Aussies will have to show more polish in the final third. They lacked the final touch needed to break through the back line against Ireland throughout the match and when they did find themselves in on goal, lacked finish. 

Expect the Matildas to have a few tricks up their sleeves in case Nigeria sticks to a defensive gameplan. 

Although they crowded their own defensive third of the field against Canada, the Nigerians weren’t shy to commit numbers forward in bursts as they looked for counterattacks. The Matildas will have to keep this in the back of their minds when committing numbers forward. 

Specifically, their fullback duo of Steph Catley and Ellie Carpenter will have to be wary of pressing too far forward as at times Nigeria caught Canada’s Ashley Lawrence and Jayde Riviere out of position. 

It’s no secret that head coach Tony Gustavsson and the Matildas like to play a counterattacking style of football. That’s tough to do against a team like Ireland who was content to sit back and defend for much of the game. 

Given that Nigeria drew their opening match and with the pace that they showed themselves on the counterattack, they may look to open up the pitch. 

The Australians are prepared for this and feel they can have success in that type of game. 

Defender Charlotte Grant stated “Hopefully that [style] opens up space for us. That’s where we thrive…

The Matildas know that they will have their hands full with the physical, fast Nigerian side and will look to come away with three points, despite the injuries piling up. 

Injury Updates on Sam Kerr and More

Australia’s captain and superstar Sam Kerr was ruled out of matches one and two prior to kick off against Ireland due to a calf injury sustained in training. Her timeline remains the same as she will be re-evaluated before the Canada match with no guarantee she will be ready to go. 

Her attacking partner Caitlin Foord offered some reassurance to the Aussie faithful on Tuesday, telling Optus Sport that Kerr would “definitely be back this tournament.” 

Although it’s not a perfect answer, it outlines that the injury is not massively severe, which is good news. 

Not so good news is that Mary Fowler, who started in place of Kerr against Ireland, suffered a mild concussion in training on Tuesday and has been ruled out of the matchup with Nigeria. 

In a separate incident, midfielder Aivi Luik also sustained a mild concussion and will be unavailable. 

Both are going through concussion protocol and early reports suggest neither should be out for a prolonged period.

Nonetheless, Australia’s depth in attack will be tested heavily against Nigeria.  

The Matildas head into their second match against Nigeria tonight atop Group B. Though they are confident they have the class necessary to put on a quality performance, with injuries piling up, the depth that many thought to be a strength coming in will certainly be tested.