Preview: Matildas v Nigeria

The Westfield Matildas must bounce back quickly from the disappointment of a first-up World Cup loss when they take on the unpredictable Nigeria in Winnipeg on Saturday morning (AEST).


Live Blog FIFA Women's World Cup | Matildas v Nigeria


A win for either side will take them a long way towards progressing out of the group, while defeat would be a hammer blow. So, expect another drama-charged 90 minutes in Winnipeg between the technical Aussies and the unpredictable Nigerians. 

Alen Stajcic’s side outplayed the USA for long periods in their Group D opener on Tuesday, losing 3-1 in the end but gaining plenty of admirers in the process.

The Matildas celebrate after deservedly drawing level, the sides going into the break locked at 1-1.

But the African champions present a different challenge after their impressive 3-3 draw with Sweden.

Nigeria showed great character to fight back from two goals down to snatch a point and showed deadly prowess and speed on the counter attack.

The Matildas are unlikely to change their high-pressing, high-line game, though, in a match they dearly need to take three points from. 

Edwin Okon’s side is likely to try and sit deep and hit the Aussies on transition, just like the USA did so well in the second half.

Ngozi Okobi looms as the danger woman for the Matildas - she scored one and set up the other two goals in the draw with the Swedes and was a menace throughout.

Desire Oparanozie, who was their leading scorer at the African Championships last year, is another key attacking weapon the Aussies must look out for.

Nigeria's Ngozi Okobi celebrates with teammates after being named player of the match against Sweden.

Matildas World Cup scouting report: Nigeria

Stajcic has some interesting selection decisions to make with a couple of key players set to return from injury for Saturday’s (AEST) match and he has hinted he could make a couple of changes for this one.

Co-captain Claire Polkinghorne (hamstring) and keeper Lydia Williams (thigh) both missed the USA match but should be available after recovering from injury. They will be key. 

Lisa De Vanna (ankle) and Laura Alleway (hip) looked to have shrugged off the knocks they picked up against the US and are still in contention to take their place in the starting side.

Central midfielder Emily van Egmond was arguably the Matildas best against the USA - she bossed the centre of the park - and expect her to play a leading role again.

Look for Katrina Gorry to also go to a new level after a relatively quiet display against America. ‘Mini’s’ ability to bring wide attackers Lisa De Vanna and Sam Kerr into the game will be crucial to Australia’s hopes. 

The Westfield Matildas celebrate Lisa de Vanna's equaliser against the USA at last year's FIFA Women's World Cup.

As will the performance of striker Michelle Heyman. Starved of opportunities against the US, her physical presence will be vital if the Matildas are to stay alive.

Stajcic will expect a similar performance he got from his side in the first-half against the Americans, the challenge will be sustaining that level for longer periods. If they do, they should be able to grab a vital win. 

Matildas in article banner.