Nigeria coach Randy Waldrum warned Wednesday that a depleted Australia still has plenty of “weapons” and told his side it must take its chances in Brisbane.
The Matildas go into the Women’s World Cup showdown on Thursday without injured strikers Sam Kerr and Mary Fowler, leaving Arsenal’s Caitlin Foord as their only recognised forward.
But Waldrum said it would not change how Nigeria approached the game or give it an advantage.
“We never like to see players injured; I know how devastating that is, missing matches at a World Cup,” said the American.
“But I don’t think it really changes our tactics or what we are trying to do. They obviously still have a lot of weapons that can hurt you.
“We know the strength of their team; I know a lot of their players well from when I was coaching in the (American) NWSL; I know their quality.
“So we cannot go into the match thinking we are at some advantage for that reason. We have to stick to the game plan and how we have been preparing for them since after the Canada match.”
Nigeria opened its campaign by earning a valuable point in a battling 0-0 draw against Olympic champion Canada, with goalkeeper Chiamaka Nnadozie the African side’s hero after saving a penalty.
The Nigerian defence was solid and gave little away against a team ranked seventh in the world.
Australia beat Ireland 1-0 thanks to a penalty to open its World Cup, and Waldrum said his team had taken note of how the Irish got players behind the ball to frustrate the co-host.
But he stressed that his 40th-ranked team must also put away any chances that come its way after failing to find the net in its opening game.
“I would worry more if we weren’t creating opportunities, but we have been,” he said.
“It’s a very, very difficult group, and you’re not going to be putting four or five goals in this kind of group.
“We have quality on the team—players that can score goals. We just have to make sure that when those opportunities come, we’re clinical with them.”
Nigeria heads into the match without midfielder Deborah Abiodun, who picked up a red card against Canada but is otherwise at full strength.
Australia tops Group B with three points, and victory would ensure it progresses to the last 16. Nigeria and Canada have one point each, with Ireland yet to get off the mark.
Nigeria is appearing at its ninth World Cup and looking to make the knockout phase for the second successive time, having lost to Germany at that stage in 2019.
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