By Harry Awurumibe, Africa’s No.1 Women Football Journalist
Down and Out. ..Nigerian goalkeeper Chiamaka Nnadozie sprawling on the turf after conceding yet another goal against Team USA in a recent international friendly match in US.
Few days to the draw for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup final in Australia and New Zealand, former African Champions, Super Falcons risk facing tough opponents in the group stage after series of bad results in international matches have conspired to lump Nigeria in Pot 4 amongst the weakest teams in the world out of 32 countries that will participate in the global football fiesta.
Although the 2023 FIFA WWC is just nine months away, the draw has been slated for Saturday, October 22, 2022 by 19:30 local time, (7:30pm in UK) at the Aotea Centre in Auckland, New Zealand with the 32 nations put in four Pots according to their global pedigree and FIFA Ranking for the month of October 2022.
Expectedly, reigning FIFA World Cup holders, United States of America (USA); current UEFA Women’s Championship winners, England; Sweden; Germany; France Spain and co-hosts New Zealand and Australia are among the eight countries in Pot 1
Pot 2 comprises of second set of heavyweights, Canada, Netherlands, Brazil, Japan, Norway, Italy, China and South Korea while Pot 3 hosts, Denmark, Switzerland, Republic of Ireland, Colombia, Argentina, Vietnam, Costa Rica and Jamaica.
Meanwhile, Pot 4 consists of Nigeria, a country that had previously ranked above Switzerland, Republic of Ireland, Colombia, Argentina, Vietnam, Costa Rica and Jamaica even as the once dreaded African women’s football powerhouse had defeated the likes of Denmark in 1999 and South Korea in 2019 in the group stages of the past World Cup.
Other lowly-rated nations in Pot 4 with Nigeria are three other qualified African countries- South Africa, Morocco and Zambia as well as Philippines and the three countries which will emerge after an inter- confederations Play-off with two African nations Cameroon and Senegal taking part in the competition.
Prompt News can authoritatively report that Nigeria will be pitched with one of the heavyweights in Pot 1 such as USA, Germany, England or Sweden but most likely Super Falcons will draw Team USA.
From Pot 2, Nigeria will face the prospect of being put in the same group with the
Netherlands or Canada if she escapes USA or England and can face old rivals Japan, China or South Korean from the Asia zone or meet South American giants Brazil.
Pot 3 presents no better alternative as Nigeria will get Denmark, Switzerland or Colombia, Argentina from South American zone with the top seeded countries likely to draw low ranked Vietnam, Costa Rica and Jamaica which beat Nigeria in the USA Tour of 2021 in Texas.
A closer look at the draw proceedings which is expected to last one hour, with cultural performances set to accompany the draw, showed that Nigeria will face a tough draw after being seeded in weakest Pot 4.
Super Falcons pose for photograph
Pairing of previous editions since 1991 showed that Nigeria will always be in the same group with one country each from CONCACAF (North America/ Carribeans); UEFA (Europe);CONMEBOL (South America); AFC (Asia and Australia) and OFC (Oceania/New Zealand).
This is the reason USA, Canada and Japan recently invited Nigeria for series of international friendly matches which they clinically won against the African guinea-pigs.
Super Falcons under the tutelage of Randy Waldrum the incumbent Head Coach of University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Women’s Soccer Team, have been on a free fall as the Falcons surrendered their African title earlier this year to the Banyana Banyana of South Africa in the last Women’s African Cup of Nations (WAFCON) in Morocco.
French Delight…Nigeria may draw France again like in France 2019
Also, Falcons have lost their last five consecutive games including recent friendlies against USA and Japan, taking the team’s 2022 total loss to eight in 15 Grade A matches hence Nigeria is today ranked below, Colombia, Argentina, Costa Rica, Jamaica and even Vietnam that has never qualified for the FIFA Women’s World Cup.
However, there will be around 800 attendees in total, including representatives for the 32 competing teams at the draw with senior FIFA and Confederation officials, international media, broadcast networks and commercial affiliates also in the audience.
*Below are the 2023 FIFA WWC Draw Seeding:*
1. New Zealand
3. the United States
2. the Netherlands
8. South Korea
3. the Republic of Ireland
7. Costa Rica
2. the Philippines
3. South Africa
6. Play-off winner 1
7. Play-off winner 2
8. Play-off winner 3