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After Australia kicked off proceedings in Group B with a win over the Republic of Ireland, Nigeria and Canada are up next, competing in their ninth and eighth World Cup finals, respectively.
Playing in her sixth tournament, Canada’s veteran captain Christine Sinclair said her side should not be underestimated this summer, adding that Canada were “overlooked” before they went on to win the gold medal at Tokyo 2020.
“We can beat any team in the world. It’s contagious [winning], you want to do it again and it’s just motivated us to prove to the world what we can do again,” the 40-year-old said.
Both Canada and the Super Falcons have had a disruptive year in the build-up to this summer’s World Cup. Canadian players threatened to strike over pay equity concerns and a lack of funding, while the Nigerian team threatened to boycott their opening game.
Despite this, Nigeria forward Toni Payne says fans can expect to see a “super united team” who have “all the confidence” to defeat the reigning Olympic champions in Melbourne.
Rachel Brown-Finnis’ prediction: This will be close, but Canada have got more experience in their team and I think that will give them the edge.