Both Nigeria and South Korea are looking to bounce back from some heavy defeats in their opening matches of the 2019 Women’s World Cup, with a victory looking like a requirement for both teams if they want to keep their hopes of reaching the Round of 16 alive, as reported by The Stats Zone.
Both teams were given two of the strongest teams in their respective openers. Nigeria faced Norway and South Korea played France, and while the optimism that comes before any tournament for an underdog was quickly snuffed out, realistic supporters were already aware of this gulf and that this would be the most important match for both teams.
While Nigeria was overwhelmed in the first half of their defeat to Norway — already down by three goals after 37 minutes — they did look much improved and settled in the second half. Still, their attack that was vaunted by pundits was unable to score a goal or provide much of a threat against a Norway team that was effectively cruising, once again raising questions about Nigeria’s inability to bring their top-class form in Africa to the global stage. They will have to show a lot more against a South Korea that — despite their own loss — are no soft touches if they hope to finally make it out of the group stages for the first time since 1999.
Although it was hard to see South Korea pulling off a victory against a French team that is arguably the best in the world and playing on home soil, after the thorough dismantling that they received at the hands of France, it will be hard to see them mentally regroup completely on such short notice despite their talent advantage against Nigeria.
After falling behind in the ninth minute after a Eugénie Le Sommer goal, South Korea completely fell apart, with their defense completely exposed and the attack that was supposed to carry their weaknesses at the back completely anemic, not registering a single shot on goal. The attack was so poor that South Korea didn’t even register a single shot at all until after the 70 minutes had passed.
It takes mental toughness to even qualify for international tournaments, and both teams knew they would be underdogs in their first matches, although it was unlikely that either thought they would be defeated so thoroughly. Still, both teams should be expected to bounce back and put on much better performances, with South Korea’s more talented squad favored in what should be a more entertaining affair than their previous thrashings.
Date: Wednesday, June 12
Time: 2 p.m. BST/9 a.m. ET