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Nigeria play to scoreless draw with Ireland; Randy Waldrum’s squad advances to the knockout stage at Women’s World Cup

Photo Courtesy Nigeria Women's Soccer Twitter (@NGSuperFalcons)

The Nigerian women’s soccer team, led by University of Pittsburgh Head Coach Randy Waldrum battled the Republic of Ireland to a scoreless draw at the Women’s World Cup in Brisbaine, Australia, on Monday morning.

With the result, Nigeria has advanced to the knockout stage, finishing second in Group B, as they’ll take on the winner of Group D, in the Round of 16 in Brisbaine (which could be England, Denmark or China) next Monday, Aug. 7 at 3:30 a.m. EST.

“We could have won the match and so it almost seems disappointing that we didn’t get the three points,” Waldrum said after the match as his team pushed for the go-ahead goal, especially in the second half after Ireland played on the front foot in the first 45 minutes.

“Two years ago when we started this journey, so many things went well, So many things didn’t go well. But they never gave up. But they continued to believe.  I don’t think that anybody, before we got here thought we’d get out of this group, and go through it without losing a match. I am so proud of them, for the effort that they put in. That they can get to experience this and move on to the next round.”

It was a flat first half for Nigeria, as Ireland controlled play with most of the possession, creating a few shots on frame.

Nigeria’s attack woke up early in the second half with a pair of dangerous opportunities, but Ireland’s goalkeeper Courtney Brosnan was up to the task to deny Nigeria a chance to win the group outright.

The play of the match came when Nigeria winger Toni Payne whipped in a cross into the box in the 51st minute for Uchenna Kanu, who drove powerful header on the six-yard line. As the ball bounced toward Brosnan, the Canadian keeper somehow managed to slow it down — tipping it to the underside of the bar and somehow spun out of the goal area.

Despite a few more advances, but nothing quite as dangerous, Nigeria would have to settle for the draw — which put them through to the knockout stage while Ireland’s tournament came to an end.

Now, Waldrum and the Super Falcons will await the results of Group D play on Tuesday.

“Well, I think they’re going to be another team. If it’s England it’s the European champions; We’ve already played the Olympic gold medal winners, we’ve already beat the host team,” Waldrum said.

“So, it’s just going to be another one of those matches that we’ve been playing in.”

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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