FIFA Women World Cup: VAR, Re-taken Penalty Condemn Nigeria To Defeat, Waiting Game

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  • France, Norway go through
Super Falcons players saying no way

BY EDMOND ODOK – Again, huge controversies surrounding the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) took the centre stage as hosts, France muscled their way to a third win at the on-going FIFA Women World Cup.

Unfortunately, Nigeria was at the receiving end of this harsh decision as Wendie Renard’s penalty, awarded via Video Assistant Referee (VAR) and then re-taken after VAR wiped out her miss, helped the French women to a 100 per cent record in the tournament.

And Nigeria’s head Coach, Thomas Dennerby summed up his thoughts on the penalty thus: “Honestly, if I gave you honest opinion, they would probably send me home.”

With the dramatic result, Super Falcons’ progress in the competition now hangs in the balance. And as usual, the permutations are on as Nigeria is presently classified third among the third-placed teams, with two more days to sit tight and wait for remaining groups’ results.

Only four teams are expected to join 12 other qualifiers in the round of 16 pairings.

France was far from convincing in their 1-0 victory as Wendie Renard followed up her own-goal in the match against Norway by missing a penalty. But luck was on her side, as the Nigeria goalkeeper was deemed to have come off her line early, and she got a second chance to seal victory for the host nation. 

Renard admitted afterwards that it was Eugenie Le Sommer who convinced her to step up again.

“There were players who asked me if I wanted to take a second go at it, and we asked the referee if we were allowed to change the player. 

“Eugenie [Le Sommer] came to me and said, ‘No, you’re going to be the one to take the spot kick. I was lucky enough to take it the second time and it was very good for the team and me as well.”

The Super Falcons managed to make the first half physical which largely kept France quiet on Monday night.

Having already guaranteed a place in the knock-out stage, Corinne Diacre made four changes, including omitting Le Sommer and introducing Viviane Asseyi in her World Cup debut. The changes disrupted France’s play completely as Asseyi proved a weak link in a team that on the whole put on a disjointed performance. 

Along with their opponents, France were unable to get a single shot on target in the first hour, their opportunities mainly arising from set plays as poor final passes and finishing plagued their attack.

A chance in the 53rd minute summed it up, with Valerie Gauvin and Amandine Henry involved in a mess of mishit passes and blocked shots in the box which eventually saw the ball land at Delphine Cascarino’s feet, only for her to launch her shot into the side netting.

In the 62nd minute Diacre finally had enough, and introduced Le Sommer and Kadidiatou Diani. The effect was almost instantaneous, with improved tempo, and the penalty award would prove their saviour.

Ngozi Ebere’s tackle on Asseyi in the box was deemed illegal upon VAR consultation and the Nigerian defender given her second yellow card and a penalty awarded.

However, Renard’s spot-kick whizzed wide, clipping the post on its way out of play. In a cruel twist of fate for the Nigerians though, goalkeeper Chiamaka Nnadozie was harshly deemed to have come off her line early.

It was a second opportunity that the French veteran, Renard would not miss, thumping it into the top right corner on the 79th minute mark, her look to the sky in prayer afterwards demonstrated her utter relief. 

The story was almost similar in the other Group A game as two more penalties guided Norway into the last 16 round as second placed side after taking out South Korea 2-1 on the night. – With agency reports

GROUP A STANDINGS

CountriesPWDLPTSGFGA

GD

France

3300971+ 6
Norway3201663

+ 3

Nigeria

3102324– 2
South Korea3003012

– 7

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