Nigeria hold Canada level in final game of Celebration Tour

A team loaded with athletic ability, Nigeria were expected to put Canada to work in Game 2 of the Celebration Tour at Starlight Stadium in Langford, British Columbia.

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There will be lessons on the road to the Concacaf Championships for the Canadian Women’s National Team, which is why they have scheduled two exhibition games against Nigeria.

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A team loaded with athletic ability, Nigeria were expected to put Canada to work in the final game of the Celebration Tour at Starlight Stadium in Langford, British Columbia on Monday and they did just that, forcing the hosts to score a late equalizer in a 2-2 game. tie.

Forward Ifeoma Onumonu, who plays for NJ/NY Gotham FC, and Rasheedat Ajibade, who plays for Athletic Madrid in Spain, scored for Nigeria, while Christine Sinclair and Shelina Zadorsky blocked for Canada in front of a packed house of 6,000 fans.

With a few extra days to prepare, Canada head coach Bev Priestman expected a tougher challenge from Nigeria than the one presented at BC Place on Friday, where Jessie Fleming and Vanessa Gilles scored in a 2-0 victory , a score that actually flattered the visitors.

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“I’m frustrated, I think we had maybe 20 shots and again couldn’t find the back of the net as much as we would like,” Priestman said. “Overall, I’m really happy with the resilience we’ve shown; we won a gold medal this summer without losing a game, and to come back and the adversity that comes with it, I thought the group gave it their all.

As well as being part of the Canadian Celebration Tour commemorating the team’s gold medal in Tokyo last summer, the two games against Nigeria also gave Priestman a chance to assess his team ahead of the Concacaf Championships. this summer in Mexico.

The tournament will serve as both a qualifier for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup and the 2024 Olympics.

At Langford, the Super Falcons were a more cohesive unit defensively and harder to break down. They were also more adventurous going forward and presented many problems for Canada’s backline.

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“I think the Nigeria that we saw tonight was probably more than we know in terms of, they can be dangerous on the break,” Priestman said. “And I got to see younger players. I think I would have liked, if the game had taken another direction, to attract more players into the game today, but it is in the nature of playing at this level.

Nigeria took a surprise lead in the fifth minute when Onumonu took advantage of a defensive error and scored from a back care, which wormed its way past Canadian goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan.

The game started with Toni Payne throwing a free kick into the penalty area, which the Canadian defenders were unable to handle cleanly. The ball fell on Onumonu, who brought it back to the net, and she treated it to give Nigeria the 1-0 lead.

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Canada had plenty of chances to level the game in the half as Janine Beckie, laying down at right-back, continued to drive forward and delivered dangerous crosses into the penalty area. Neither Jordyn Huitema, Nichelle Prince nor Adriana Leon were able to make the most of the crossovers, however.

In the second half, Sinclair was brought in as a substitute for Huitema and made an immediate impact, leveling the game in the 49th minute.

Sinclair took advantage of an error from Chiamaka, who came well out of her net to play a free kick, then found herself helpless after throwing a misguided pass to her centre-back Onome Ebi in traffic.

Sinclair was able to pressure Ebi into giving the ball away, then deftly chipped Ebi from 30 yards to level the game and increase his tally atop the all-time international goalscorers list to 189 goals.

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“I can’t imagine this team without Sync,” Zadorsky said. “Since I arrived she’s always been there and she does things in training and in the game that can stun you. Just the composure, I think that’s what I notice the most about her , it’s her composure and her ability to find the goal. Even if she doesn’t have time to look, she has this sixth sense to know where the goal is.

Canada were expected to take control of the game after the equalizer, but Nigeria fought back four minutes later as Ajibade fired a cross into the penalty area, which escaped substitute keeper Sabrina D’Angelo and rolled into the far corner of the net.

D’Angelo expected Onumonu to hit the cross in front, but the ball went past her and found the net, much to the disappointment of the Canadian keeper.

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Canada pushed for the equalizer for the remainder of the half and went close a few times before Zadorsky headed in a Beckie cross in the 88th minute.

Sinclair hit the crossbar on a shot that Chiamaka was able to put fingertip in, and Zadorsky hit the goal post with a header off the next corner swung to the far post.

“Even at half time we thought the goal would come and sometimes that can be frustrating because these teams are hard to beat for a reason,” Priestman said. “We were bitterly disappointed to concede two and it was unlikely that we would, but I was happier with the response and the belief and knowing the goals would come.

“And to be honest, if we had had a little more extra time, who’s to say we wouldn’t have had another one.”

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Zadorsky managed to level the match with his third international goal in 79 appearances, overtaking Onumonu with a cross swung into the penalty area by Beckie.

Canada dominated possession in the game with 71 percent of the ball and had 19 attempts on goal to Nigeria’s six. Both teams had five shots on target.

“It’s funny, because I trained really hard and worked on set pieces and really set myself goals to be a game-changing centre-back,” Zadorsky said. “I think it was good to put what you did in training. But more importantly it was about getting us back into the game and really feeding us the energy to try and get the win. Unfortunately, we didn’t, but we’ll learn a lot from this game.

Email: [email protected]

On Twitter: @DerekVanDiest

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