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Women's World Cup

'We're Super Falcons, not South Africa' - Evelyn Nwabuoku backs Nigeria to shock Norway

7:21 PM IST 08/06/19
Super Falcons in France for World Cup
The Europeans are aiming for a goal feast after crushing Banyana in a friendly, but the Super Falcons defender has fired back

Nigeria defender Evelyn Nwabuoku has backed her side to upset Norway in their 2019 Women's World Cup opener on Saturday.

Three successive defeats in all previous meetings with the Grasshoppers have seen Thomas Dennerby's side being tipped to crash again.

A 7-2 thrashing of South Africa in a friendly last week has piled more pressure on the Africans in the buildup to the showdown at Stade Auguste-Delaune.

But the Rivers Angels star says her side have what it takes to claim a win, insisting that the pressure is obviously on the 1995 winners and not them.

"This [Nigeria] squad is a very strong blend of talented professionals, who know what it takes to play at this level," Nwabuoku told Goal.

"We have the character and attitude. I believe football is played on the pitch, so if we have belief amongst ourselves, play to our strength we will go past the group stage.

"The game against Norway is as important as others but because it's the first makes it more important.

"Winning your first game gives you confidence, stability and always sends the right signals within the team.

"We are aware they defeated South Africa. That was a friendly game which was a good test for the South Africans but we are the Super Falcons not them.

"We didn't just come here to participate but to prove our mettle. The pressure should be on the Norwegians because they are a force to reckon with as former champions."

The 33-year-old had suffered a horrible knee injury late 2016, forcing her out of the African Women's Cup of Nations in Cameroon.

On her return to the team's fold in 2018, newly appointed coach Dennerby snubbed her for a midfielder role in last year's Awcon in Ghana, with some explanations.

In a bid to solve his defence problems, the coach once again selected Nwabuoku in April 2019, this time as a defender, and she impressed enough to secure the chance of playing in her second World Cup.

"It's really exciting for me and I intend making it a memorable one," she continued.

"I am looking to having a very good outing and I want to make history this time around.

"I am one player that has always played any role both for my club side and the national team and this won't be an exemption.

"I have done it before with coach Kadiri Ikhana and I also scored goals from there [as a defender].

"I also was drafted to the defence when we had a red card against the USA in Canada 2015, so it's nothing new. I will always adjust and play to instructions and with my brain."

Having never picked up a point against Norway, Nigeria will be aiming to upstage the Europeans this time.