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Soaring Down Under: Defying the odds, Randy Waldrum guides Nigeria Super Falcons to stunning World Cup victory vs host Australia

Photo courtesy / Women's World Cup

Before heading into the 2023 Women’s World Cup Group B competition, when he appeared as a guest on Pittsburgh Soccer Now‘s Sounding Off on Soccer Podcast, the match that concerned Randy Waldrum the most was facing the host nation Australia, in Brisbane, before a packed stadium filled with intense support of the home Matildas.

On Thursday, Waldrum-led Nigeria Super Falcons pulled off one of the biggest upsets of the World Cup tournament thus far, defeating Australia, 3-2, in an exhilarating match that needed 11 minutes of stoppage time to play out.

With the win, Nigera ascends to the top of the Group B table, with four points.

“I think they are still singing and dancing in there (the dressing room) now, I can’t get in there to get in a word! So many people didn’t believe in them, didn’t believe in me,” Waldrum, who also serves as the Head Coach of the University of Pittsburgh women’s soccer team, said after the match.

Waldrum’s squad withstood Australia’s pressure from the start.

They even fell behind, when Emily van Egmond sent the home fans into delirium just before the interval, tapping home a sweeping move to give Australia the lead.

The stadium was bouncing.

The home fans were celebrating.

But the defiant Nigerians have been dealing with adversity before they even came together down under to prepare for the tournament, showed their fierce determination.

It was Uchenna Kanu who quieted down the party at Brisbane Stadium, somehow managing to scramble home a scuffed cross to score Nigeria’s first goal of the 2023 tournament.

Heading into the half level, gave Waldrum and his squad plenty of belief, and an opportunity to make the proper adjustments.

In the second half, they took the lead on a close-range header on a second effort play in the box following a corner from Osinachi Ohale. Then Barcelona striker Asisat Oshoala, who Waldrum summoned off the bench in this match, completed a world class finish from a tight angle to extend the lead and further silence the Australian crowd.

“I told Oshoala before the match that I needed her to give us the last thirty minutes,” Waldrum explained.

“I felt very strongly she was going to get a goal, and she got the game-winning goal,”

The home side continued to push — as they held advantages in possession and corners (16-2!!) — finally scoring when Alanna Kennedy pulled one back in 10th minute of added time to give Australia a chance.

Despite an additional advance from the Matildas, a resolute Nigerian side held on — and Chiamaka Nnadozie made one more save to secure the victory that send the Super Falcons top of Group B.

“It came on pure heart and desire to compete and fight. They were throwing everything at us at the end, and the players just repelled everything, Waldrum said in the post match press conference.

“I think it’s just a credit to them to put that kind of effort in to get this result. Who would have thought we’d score three goals on Australia?”


The result means Nigeria has a one point lead going into its final group game against already eliminated Ireland, while Australia face a must-win match against Canada, sitting a point behind the Olympic champion.

John Krysinsky has covered soccer and other sports for many years for various publications and media outlets. He is also author of 'Miracle on the Mon' -- a book about the Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC, which chronicles the club, particularly the early years of Highmark Stadium with the narrative leading up to and centered around a remarkable match that helped provide a spark for the franchise. John has covered sports for Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, DK Pittsburgh Sports, Pittsburgh Sports Report, has served as color commentator on Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC broadcasts, and worked with OPTA Stats and broadcast teams for US Open Cup and International Champions Cup matches held in the US. Krysinsky also served as the Head Men’s Soccer Coach at his alma mater, Point Park University, where he led the Pioneers to the first-ever winning seasons and playoff berths (1996-98); head coach of North Catholic boys (2007-08), associate head coach of Shady Side Academy boys (2009-2014).

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