Pre-tournament underdog Nigeria used a scoreless draw against Ireland on Monday to advance to the round of 16 of the Women’s World Cup. The Super Falcons finished second in Group B behind tournament co-host Australia.
After a relatively quiet first half, the Nigerians picked up the intensity in hopes of scoring the goal that would move them to the top of the group. A diving save from Ireland’s Courtney Brosnan in the 52nd minute kept her clean sheet intact and secured Ireland’s first point in its debut appearance at the tournament.
Nigeria came closest to breaking the deadlock when Toni Payne found the head of Uchenna Kanu. A diving said by Courtney Brosnan was needed to keep the game scoreless.
Each team's best chance to score in the first half came within the first 15 minutes from their respective star players. Ireland’s Katie McCabe was just off target with a left-foot shot in the 5th minute and Asisat Oshoala couldn’t convert off a breakaway that came nine minutes later.
Why it Matters
With the point earned from the draw, Nigeria is into the round of 16. The 40th-ranked team in the world avoided defeat in all three of its group-stage matches, including a shocking 3-2 win over Australia.
Nigeria's run is all the more surprising given the turmoil surrounding the team prior to the tournament. The team was able to put an ongoing pay dispute behind it and qualify for the knockout stage for the third time in its history.
Ireland's women's team heads home after earning one point in its first major global tournament. The team will look to use the experience gained to its advantage as it attempts to qualify for its first ever Women’s European Championship in 2025.
As the runner-up in Group B, Nigeria will play the winners of Group D next Monday in Brisbane.