- The 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup kicks off with an intense clash between Nigeria and Olympic champions, Canada.
- While Canada enter the match as the heavy favourites, the Super Falcons should not be taken lightly.
Nigeria have a strong history of qualifying for every Women's World Cup but has struggled to progress beyond the group stage, with only one appearance in the quarterfinals, that being in 1999.
Their overall World Cup record stands at four wins, three draws, and a staggering 19 losses in 26 games.
On the other hand, Canada have made eight appearances at the Women's World Cup, reaching the semifinals once in 2003. However, they fell short in their most recent knockout stage game four years ago.
Adding to their credentials, Canada are currently the reigning Olympic champions. In contrast, Nigeria lost their continental crown to South Africa at the Africa Women's Cup of Nations in Morocco last year.
This encounter marks the first time the two countries will meet in the World Cup since 2011 and only the third meeting overall.
In their previous encounters, Nigeria managed a thrilling 3-3 draw against Canada in 1995, and in 2011, they secured a 1-0 victory courtesy of Perpetua Nkwocha's 84th-minute strike.
However, Super Falcons' preparation for this contest has not been ideal. Led by American coach Randy Waldrum, the team has been making headlines for unfortunate reasons lately.
Rumours swirled about the Nigerians boycotting their opening match, but captain Onome Ebi quickly denied these claims.
Additionally, Coach Waldrum found himself in a dispute with the Nigeria Football Federation over player treatment, leading to heated exchanges and public criticism. Despite the off-field distractions, the players have asserted their readiness for the challenge ahead.
Nigeria boast several incredible talents that can cause any opposition problems.
Keep an eye on Asisat Oshoala, the dynamic forward who plays for Spanish powerhouse Barcelona. With an impressive scoring record for both club and country, she has earned the African Women's Footballer of the Year title five times.
Goalkeeper Chiamaka Nnadozie is also one to watch as a rising star, and veteran defender Onome Ebi is set to become the first African player to participate in six World Cups.
Canada are no slouch, either.
The North Americans are captained by the veteran Christine Sinclair, who boasts an incredible 190 international goals - the most by any soccer player in history.
Guarding the goal will be Kailen Sheridan from San Diego Wave, while Jessie Fleming, who scored the winning goal during the 2020 Olympic Games, will be controlling the midfield.
The match between Nigeria and Canada kicks off at 3:30 am (Nigerian time) at the Melbourne Rectangular Stadium in Melbourne, Australia.