USA wins opener, Nigeria opens eyes

USA wins opener, Nigeria opens eyes

(WVUE) - The United States' 3-1 win against Australia on Monday vaulted the Stars and Stripes to the top of Group D.

'D' stands for death, which this group has been referred to as being for this World Cup, and for good reason. Three of the four teams, the U.S., Sweden and Australia are top 10 teams in FIFA's world rankings.

The fourth in this group, Nigeria, may be ranked 33rd, but they showed in yesterday's 3-3 draw with 5th ranked Sweden that they are no pushover.

The U.S. may be the most talented and deepest team in its group, but Nigeria is without a doubt the most exciting and unpredictable team.

They're considered the up and coming nation in this group and they carry the least amount of depth. But, they have been on the big stage many times before.

Nigeria has been a part of every women's World Cup. This is their seventh straight appearance and they have learned over the years that success here begins with being able to adjust to the nuances that each tournament location brings.

In Canada, FIFA approved the first ever cup to be played on artificial turf. All six stadiums have the fake stuff and it hasn't been a welcome addition for the players.

But, everyone has to play on it, and fall on it, and adjust to it and the teams that can will have more success than those that cannot.

Nigeria, and their free flowing style of play, has adjusted very well. Their approach has always been to attack, attack, attack. It is why they were never out of their game against Sweden, despite falling behind by two goals early.

They would eventually tie it up at two, then, later, at three. But truth be told, the super Falcons were the better team all day long and deserved the win in the end.

Perhaps they were the winners in the end. Not on the scoreboard but in the heads of their future opponents.

Nigeria's best World Cup finish came in 1991 in the United States when they bowed out in the quarterfinals to Brazil.

Twenty-four years later and Nigeria's back with more to prove. They know they belong on the world stage and Monday's performance, all be it a draw, was a warning shot heard clear across Canada.

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