Today’s match between Nigeria and South Korea is the battle of the losers of Group A. South Korea lost 0-4 to France in the World Cup opener in Paris last Friday. The next day Nigeria were beaten 0-3 by Norway.
“We conceded three goals because we lost focus for a couple of minutes in the first half and that cost us the game,” explains Barcelona Femini and Nigeria striker Asisat Oshoala. “But I feel we can do better against South Korea,” she adds from Nigeria’s training ground in the Alpine city of Grenoble.
The South Koreans cancelled their training session on Monday afternoon due to torrential rain. Instead the team remained holed up in their hotel. Then poorly attended press conference conducted in Korean only served to compound the mystery surrounding the South Korean women’s team.
The Korean captain, Cho So-hyun says the of the team’s strategy “our primary objectives were focused on the second and third matches,” suggesting they will be stronger against Nigeria than they were against France.
The two players best known to the outside world are Chelsea’s Ji So-yun and West Ham's Cho, both midfielders. They will have their work cut out keeping up with Nigeria’s speedy forwards that include Barcelona’s Oshoala and Shanghai FC’s Francesca Ordega who will both be looking to score their first goals of the tournament.
Nigeria’s defending let them down during their first match against Norway, with Guro Reiten and Lisa-Marie Karlseng Utland slipping two goals past them in well-orchestrated set pieces. And Osinachi Ohale will be looking to salvage her reputation as a reliable defender following her own goal against Scandinavia’s strongest team.
Gauls versus Vikings
A few hours after the final whistle blows in the Nigeria – South Korea match, France will take on Norway in Lyon to decide the winner of Group A. Norway, ranked number two in the world behind the US, are favourites to win. But France has the advantage of playing on home turf, quite literally with eight members of the French team playing for Olympique Lyon.
Nigeria are set to play France on Monday 17 June, the same day South Korea will face Norway. Nigeria must beat the Koreans today to guarantee their place in the knock-out stages next week, and vice versa for South Korea.