Super Falcons coach, Randy Waldrum, has revealed that his half-time team talk with his players was all the inspiration they needed to beat co-hosts Australia in their second Group B game of the 2023 Women’s World Cup at Lang Park, Brisbane on Thursday.
The plucky nine-time African champions stunned Australia 3-2 in an explosive and tension-filled clash in Brisbane.
Uchenna Kanu’s strike in first half additional time canceled out Emily van Egmond’s opener minutes earlier, before Osinachi Ohale doubled Nigeria’s lead after the break in the 65th minute.
Five-time CAF Women’s Player of The Year, Asisat Oshoala, slotted in the third for the Falcons in the 72nd minute, which proved to be the winner, despite Alanna Kennedy’s extra-time goal in the 100th minute.
Speaking after his side held on for a remarkable win — their fifth at the global showpiece — Waldrum said the Falcons’ rapid response after conceding late in the first half inspired confidence in the former African champions.
“I think two things happened, “Waldrum began. “One is, after giving up the first goal before halftime, we were able to respond and get it back. I think that was huge from a confidence standpoint. We tried to sort out a little bit of a problem that Van Egmont was causing for us in midfield, finding a lot of pockets of space.
“And then it was just a matter of telling the players, ‘you know, go for it. Don’t be afraid to go out.’ I think the changes that we made worked out, the subs that we put in changed the game as well.
“I’m so proud of these players because so many people didn’t believe, so many didn’t believe in me, didn’t believe in the team. And the one thing that we’ve done is we’ve talked about believing in each other, and the strength of our success has got to be in the unity of the team.”
Waldrum added, ”And to think that we’ve come in here and gotten two results against two top, top teams in the world says a lot, not only our ability but just the heart and the competitive desire that the team has.
“I told them after the match, ‘keep believing, right? Keep believing in yourself. Because great things can happen for teams when you fight for each other. It’s not always the best talent that wins.
“You know, sometimes it’s the best team, the team that works best together and we’re enjoying the journey. We know there’s still work to do. So, we’ll enjoy it tonight (Thursday) and get our recovery going tomorrow (today) because it was a very, very taxing game on us physically. And then we’ll do our best to get ready for another very good opponent with Ireland.”
Also, Oshoala whose strike ensured the Falcons top Group B with four points from two games, said the players gave everything to ensure the hard-earned victory.
Oshoala who came off the substitute’s bench to score the winner in the 79th minute of the game became the first African to score in three consecutive World Cups.
“Everyone went out to play their hearts out,” Oshoala said after the game.
“This team has a lot to offer, and the world has seen that today.
“I want to make sure I give everything, fight for my teammates and fight for this badge. this is, you know, the best country in the world. Nigeria for life!”
The Falcons will face the Republic of Ireland next Monday in their final group game and they need only a point to advance to the knockout stage of the competition.
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