Coach Randy Waldrum Reacts To Super Falcons Round-of-16 Exit Against England At The FIFA Women's World Cup.

Nigeria have been knocked out by England in the round of 16 of the ongoing FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.

The Super Falcons were on a mission to earn Nigeria a second appearance in the FIFAWWC last eight, but lost to England Lionesses via penalty shoot-out on Monday following a 0-0 draw after 120 minutes of football in Brisbane.

Coach Randy Waldrum led ladies who were seeking to become the first African nation to win a knockout tie in the tournament, matched England and carried momentum going into extra time, but just could not provide the ruthlessness that was needed to secure that historic victory.

Coach Sarina Wiegman's England side thought they had a penalty in the first half when Rachel Daly went down claiming a push by Rasheedat Ajibade, but it was overturned after a VAR check.

The nine-time African champions executed their gameplan to perfection, frustrating England, causing them problems on the break and winning almost every duel.

They hit the crossbar in each half, Ashleigh Plumptre's powerful drive rebounded off the woodwork before Uchenna Kanu's header looped over goalkeeper Mary Earps and bounced off the top of the bar.

Earps was kept busy throughout, needing to produce smart saves as the Super Falcons rattled the Lionesses, and England captain Millie Bright made numerous last-ditch blocks.

In an outburst of frustration, England star Lauren James stamped on defender Michelle Alozie's back in the 87th minute after losing possession and was rightly shown a red card.

James was given a yellow card by the referee but it was overturned to a red card after being reviewed by the video assistant referee (VAR).

The 21-year-old Chelsea star sending off meant England had to navigate through extra time with 10 players, as Nigeria failed to take advantage of the ten women Lionesses team.

Despite being largely second best to Nigeria throughout the encounter, England who lacked the fluidity they showed in abundance in the impressive display against China, managed to find a way in the end, as they so often have under Wiegman to win the game via penalties.

England took the first kick of the shootout, with Georgia Stanway missing, after shooting wide of goalKeeper Chiamaka Nnadozie’s right but Nigeria missed their next two efforts.

Desire Oparanozie followed suit with the exact same penalty, a carbon copy of Stanway’s miss, and Alozie also blasted well over the bar, both in-between Beth who took the opportunity to make up for the first miss for England converting brilliantly.

Rachel Daly doubled England’s lead after which Rasheedat Ajibade pulled one back to make it 2-1 but the Lionesses were unwilling to give-up their advantage again.

Alex Greenwood and Christy Ucheibe both converted leaving it at 3-2 until Chloe Kelly stepped up with England’s last kick, a superb penalty, the pick of the bunch, worthy of winning any shootout, as the European champions ranked 4th in the world secured their spot in the quarter-finals.

Kelly had also netted the winning penalty in the shootout victory over Brazil in the Women's Finalissima, and scored the Euro 2022 winner against Germany.

Super Falcons talisman and star player, Asisat Oshoala did not have the chance to play a penalty despite being on the pitch during the shootout.

The Barcelona forward reportedly planned to have definitely taken the last penalty for Nigeria, but the shoot-out never made it to the last kick.

 England Lionesses advances to the last eight and could face either Jamaica or Colombia who are yet to play. 

The quarter-final stages will take place on Friday and Saturday.

Nigeria manager Randy Waldrum praised his side's efforts in escaping a very strong group stage containing Olympic champions Canada, co-hosts Australia and plucky debutants the Republic of Ireland.

He said victory over European champions England could have had "significant implications" for the development of women's football in Nigeria, but they can exit the tournament with their heads held high.

"The players have been fantastic all tournament," said Waldrum. 

"We've played four matches, including against the Olympic gold medallists and the European champions and had clean sheets in those games.

"I'm so proud of them. They have such a bright future. The players came together in an unbelievable way. They just played their hearts out and I couldn't be more proud of them.

"We can be and should be one of the top teams in the world. I think we have shown we're capable of playing with anybody."

Waldrum's contract as Super Falcons head coach expires with the team's exit from the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup, but has expressed his desire to continue on the job.

"I am proud of my team. I want to stay with this team and continue working towards the Olympics. But that is not a matter for me to decide."

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