Nigeria hold Canada to valuable 0-0 draw in Ireland World Cup group

Nigeria Hold Canada To Valuable 0-0 Draw In Ireland World Cup Group
The Canadians are the Republic of Ireland's next opponents on Wednesday. Photo: Getty Images
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By Ian Ransom

Goalkeeper Chiamaka Nnadozie saved a penalty to help Nigeria secure a valuable 0-0 draw against Olympic champions Canada in their Women's World Cup opener on Friday in a result that threw the group wide open.

The Canadians are the Republic of Ireland's next opponents on Wednesday.


Nnadozie denied Christine Sinclair from the spot in the 50th minute with a low dive to her left as the Canada skipper missed out on becoming the first player to score in six World Cups in front of 21,000 fans at Melbourne Rectangular Stadium.

At the end of a scrappy, bruising contest, Nigeria were down to 10 via a late red card and both teams earned a point to trail Group B leaders Australia by two following the co-hosts' 1-0 win over Ireland on Thursday.

"We've got to move on very quickly, you know, you can get lost and be really down on that," said Canada coach Bev Priestman, whose team next faces Ireland in Perth on Wednesday.

"Of course the team and I am devastated. We didn't get three points. But at the end of the day we got one and we took two from another team."


Both sides had their chances but 40-year-old Sinclair, who came off ashen-faced in the 70th minute, was perhaps the most frustrated, having also missed a good opportunity when she fired wide in the ninth minute.

Asisat Oshoala of Nigeria applauds the fans after the scoreless draw in the FIFA Women's World Cup Australia & New Zealand 2023 Group B match between Nigeria and Canada at Melbourne Rectangular Stadium on July 21st, 2023 in Melbourne, Australia. Photo: Robert Cianflone/Getty Images

Nigeria, the lowest-ranked team in the group, defended desperately to hold out the Canadians, and a roaring Nnadozie slumped to her knees, pumping her fists in celebration after the final whistle.

"I’m probably going to embarrass her, but I think she’s one of the best young goalkeepers in the world today," said Nigeria coach Randy Waldrum.


"I think Chiamaka's save really kind of lit the fire and made us realise there's still something to play for."

Nigeria's joy was tempered by a red card, upgraded from yellow by VAR, for midfielder Deborah Abiodun after a studs-up tackle deep in stoppage time. She will miss their next game against Australia.

Canada's midfield dynamo Jessie Fleming was ruled out injured before the match and her absence contributed to the team's clunky transition play.

Sinclair, however, found space on the edge of the area early and blasted wide of the right post, with Jordyn Huitema heading well wide later in the first half.


The Africans also struggled on attack, but Ifeoma Onumonu forced goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan into a diving save at the far post after unloading from long range in the 23rd minute.

Sheridan came close to gifting Nigeria the lead when she charged off her line 10 minutes from the break, missing the ball with her attempted clearance.

But Nigeria striker Asisat Oshoala's cross at the near post was blocked and both teams went to the break frustrated.

Canada's frustration spiked after the interval as Sinclair was brought down in the box by Francisca Ordega, the penalty awarded by VAR.

Nnadozie blocked Sinclair's tepid shot and later denied substitute Evelyne Viens, who latched onto a header in the area and volleyed straight into the keeper's arms.

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