Super Falcons boss Randy Waldrum has urged his team to start at full tilt and defend better against World and Olympics champions USA in their final game at the WNT Summer Series on Wednesday.
Nine-time African champions Nigeria lost their opener at the four-team tournament to Jamaica by a lone goal before playing out a thrilling 3-3 draw with Portugal.
While the team were slow out the blocks against Jamaica, they were considerably improved attacking-wise against Portugal but showed a concerning soft defensive underbelly in both games.
Ahead of their final game against the hosts at the Q2 Stadium in Austin, Waldrum stressed his side must cut out defensive mistakes and be at their best for all ninety minutes to stand a chance against the USA.
“I think it’s [defence] something we have to correct because the US team can expose you in so many different ways. We hope we can clean some things up defensively because if we don’t, we’ll be in real trouble with the US,” he said.
“We’ve got to learn to start from the beginning. I did think that the first 10 or 15 minutes we started better than we did against Jamaica, then I think we had a lull in the rest of the half, then I think in the second half, same thing, we picked it up. So that’s something that we’ve got to work on and find out what we’re doing in and around the preparations prior to the game, to make sure that what we’re doing is getting them ready to be ready for the kick off.”
The tournament has seen Nigeria come up against some of the leading sides in women’s football and Waldrum says such exposure is essential to his vision of seeing the Falcons exert their presence beyond Africa.
The American says his goal is to make Nigeria a “world power” in women’s football capable of challenging for the biggest global prizes in the sport and he believes tournaments like the WNT Summer Series will help achieve that goal.
“Yes, that’s obviously what the goal is we have to do that. We have to not only move outside of Africa and on to the World Cup, I think all of us have the same goal of making Nigeria a world power, in not just qualifying, but going deep into World Cups and consistently being there.
“I think that something we have to do is consistently play at a higher level and get deeper in tournaments that we play in. These kinds of games will help us with that.
“All three of these teams are good teams, and we need these kinds of games that will challenge us and expose us in some areas that we need to improve on, and we’re certainly going to walk away from this tournament with that.”