Canada vs Nigeria Odds, Prediction, Picks | Women’s World Cup Preview
Tim Vizer/Getty. Pictured: Ifeoma Onumonu
Nigeria vs Canada Odds
|Over/Under||2.5 (-167 / +130)|
|Both Teams to Score (Yes/No)||(-110 / -125)|
|Odds via bet365. Get up-to-the-minute World Cup odds here.|
Nigeria and Canada will clash in the third Women's World Cup game of the tournament, as the two sides look to get on the board to open their campaigns.
Both teams fell in the round of 16 of the 2019 iteration of the competition, and they'll be looking to do even better this time around.
Read on for my preview and pick for Nigeria vs Canada in the Women's World Cup.
Nigeria Enter as an Underrated Side
A massive underdog, Nigeria might be considered a sleeper team in this year’s World Cup.
While they were 0-1-7 in 2022 against teams qualified for this year’s World Cup, Nigeria have come into their own in 2023. So far this year, they’re 3-0-1 against teams qualified for the World Cup, which includes a 3-0 win over host team New Zealand.
Nigeria boast one of the top players in the world in Barcelona FC striker Asisat Oshoala. The first African player to win the Champions League, she's also the first woman from Africa to win the Pichichi Trophy, awarded to the top goalscorer in Spain's La Liga. There is no bigger player to have graced the field for Nigeria in the nation's history.
Oshoala has twice been named player of the tournament at the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations. She factored heavily for Nigeria in both the 2015 and 2019 World Cups, and if/when she scores at this year’s event she’ll become the first African to score at three Women’s World Cups. The only possible issue for Oshoala could be fitness, with the striker missing Barcelona’s Champions League win in May with a hamstring injury.
She has a supporting cast alongside her this year, with Atletico Madrid’s Rasheedat Ajibade and Saint-Etienne’s Esther Okoronkwo. If opposing teams manage to get past Nigeria’s attack, they’ll run up against goalkeeper Chiamaka Nnadozie, who has honed her skills for Paris FC in France’s Division 1 Féminine, one of the best women’s leagues in Europe.
If Nigeria want to beat Canada, they’ll need to rely on their strengths, find Oshoala and trust their goalkeeper. With those three things, they could be sneakily hard to beat.
Canada Have Momentum From Olympics
The reigning Olympic gold medalists, Canada are one of the favorites to win their group alongside Australia. They’ve boasted big wins over Brazil and home-favorite Australia in the past year, but faltered in a 3-0 loss to Japan in the SheBelieves Cup.
Similarly, Canada advanced to the round of 16 in the 2019 World Cup before being eliminated by Sweden. Bev Priestman took over in October 2020 and has been a steady force for the squad. Defensively, Canada are anchored by Ashley Lawrence, Vanessa Gilles and Kadeisha Buchanan. Their real defensive threat, however, is goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan. She’ll likely be relied upon heavily given her shot-stopping abilities – since 2021 she’s faced 223 shots for the San Diego Wave and conceded just 40.
Jessie Fleming is one of the team’s best midfielders, but she was "severely limited” in practice on Tuesday and was seen earlier this week with her right ankle wrapped. Priestman said Tuesday that she “should be fine” for kickoff, but if Fleming isn’t 100% healthy it could spell trouble for Canada in the midfield.
Forwards Nichelle Prince and Adriana Leon showed up big for Canada at the Olympics, and they’ll be relied upon again, with captain Christine Sinclair anchoring the team’s front line. An offensive presence, Sinclair is one of the best the game has ever seen with an astounding 190 international goals that leads all players – male or female. But keep an eye on Cloé Lacasse, who could very well have her coming out party.
Injuries have been this team’s achilles heel, and Desiree Scott and Janine Beckie will both miss the tournament with knee injuries. Meanwhile, Buchanan has been limited in minutes, and it’s unclear as to whether or not she’s fully healthy heading into this World Cup.
Canada are the better team on paper here, and if Sheridan is playing at the level she’s capable of, they could be incredibly hard to beat.
Nigeria vs Canada Pick
These two teams met twice in 2022, with Canada winning one, 2-0, and the two teams drawing the other, 2-2.
What’s interesting about both of these teams is that they’re dealing with similar off-the-field pay issues. While Canada are in the midst of negotiating a new CBA that would bring equal pay and have accused their federation of not paying wages from 2022 in addition to not funding World Cup preparations, Nigeria coach Randy Waldrum has similarly accused the Nigerian federation of not paying wages to players.
Canada know how to handle the pressure at some of the top tournaments in the world as the reigning Olympic gold medalists and two-time bronze medalists at the two tournaments before this. But, their best World Cup finish remains fourth place at the 2003 World Cup. Meanwhile, Nigeria are one of a small number of teams that have qualified for every single World Cup, and their best finish is a 1999 quarterfinals appearance. They’ll be looking to follow up their second-best finish ever in 2019.
Recent history between these two teams suggests that this will be a tighter matchup than one might expect. The scoreline will likely feature a one or two goal differential, and while Sheridan is a likely pick for a clean sheet, Oshoala might be too talented to stop from scoring. Canada holds the edge, however, and will likely be the ones to come out on top.
The Pick: Canada 2 – Nigeria 1 (Both Teams to Score, -110 via bet365)