Day 1, Match 1
Nigeria vs. France, Group A
Date and Location
June 26, Rhein-Neckar-Arena, Sinsheim, Germany
Live on Rogers Sportsnet and CBCSports.ca (8:45 am ET). Consult the full broadcast schedule.
What's at stake
The first match of the World Cup is crucial for both sides since Group A is considered one of the tournament's toughest groups — some are even calling it the Group of Death. A loss for either nation will damage its hopes of qualification for the round of 16. A draw, while not disastrous, puts more pressure on both teams in their final two matches of the group stage.
Setting the stage
A relatively low key game kicks off the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup. It is the first-ever meeting between two nations whose common goal is to advance to the knockout stages.
The African champions are perennial participants having qualified for their sixth straight World Cup. By contrast, the French have only competed at the tournament on one previous occasion — in 2003 they failed to progress beyond the group stages.
Nigeria reached the quarter-finals in 1999 but has failed to win a match in six attempts since. As a result they arrive as long shots in Germany with a FIFA ranking of 27. The French, led by Gaetane Thiney, scored an impressive 53 goals in 12 qualifying matches and are ranked No. 7.
Player to watch for Nigeria
Perpetua Nkwocha — One of the greatest African players in the history of the women's game, Nkwocha is an experienced striker with a proven track record of scoring goals. The Nigerian possesses deadly accuracy in front of goal, can score with both feet, possesses good speed and is strong in the air.
Player to watch for France
Sonia Bompastor — Possessing a sublime touch on the ball and solid creative skills, Bompastor's greatest asset is her versatility, as she is just as comfortable lining up on the left side of midfield as she as at left fullback. As France's second all-time leading scorer, she also has a knack for scoring highlight reel goals, especially off set pieces.
"This is the time to go out there and show our stuff. Don't rule us out of reaching the final of the World Cup, or better still, coming back home with the trophy." — goalkeeper Precious Dede told FIFA.com
"People say that we are in the group of death, but I always say that it is the group of life." — coach Bruno Bini told UEFA.com
World Cup head-to-head
Sunday's match will be the first time these two countries will face off at the FIFA Women's World Cup.