Nigeria hasn’t made the quarterfinal round since the 1999 World Cup. After its final group stage match at the 2011 Women’s World Cup on July 5 against Canada, it will still be waiting on a quarterfinal.
However, with a 1-0 result, Nigeria found the win column again for the first time since 1999.
Despite both teams getting several scoring opportunities throughout the match, nobody could find the net. Then, the lights went out in the 74th minuteÃ¢â‚¬â€literally. When the power was restored to stadium lights 10 minutes later, Nigeria got the best of Canada. Nigeria’s top scorer, midfielder Perpetua Nkwocha, struck in the 85th minute. Two Nigerian shot attempts were blocked. Following the second blocked kick, the ball squirted free into the box and Nkwocha sped in and collected the ball behind the defense. She struck the ball hard across the face of goal and beat Canadian goalie Karina LeBlanc.
Neither Nigeria nor Canada was going to make the quarterfinal round no matter what happened in the game. As far as consolation games go, it was not the most exciting of matches. In the end, Nigeria will leave on a high note. Canada leaves the tournament with its fewest goals scored in any of its five World Cup appearances. In its three group matches, Canada managed only one goal, which was against Germany in the first match. Canada’s previous low-scoring total was three goals in the 1999 World Cup. Nigeria finished third in Group A with three points. Canada finished last with no points. Canada had managed to pick up at least one point in each of its previous World Cup appearances.
Nigeria and Canada leave the World Cup with one goal apiece. Both teams got a goal from their best goal-scoring threat; Christine Sinclair for Canada and Perpetua Nkwocha for Nigeria. However, just one goal in three games wasn’t enough in this difficult group that also featured host nation and back-to-back World Cup champs Germany and a very strong French team. Germany and France both scored seven goals in three group stage matches. Germany won the group after winning the final group match 4-2 over France.
As a longtime soccer fan, I can attest that this performance from Canada is a bitter disappointment for them. They expected to make the quarterfinals at least and ended up with one measly goal.