Whitby’s Kailen Sheridan shuts out Nigeria with 0-0 draw in Women’s World Cup opener


Published July 21, 2023 at 7:13 am

Kailen Sheridan

Whitby goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan held off all attackers, but Canada was left looking for positives in the wake of a scoreless draw with Nigeria in its opening match at the FIFA Women’s World Cup.

Coach Bev Priestman and her players found some. But it had a feel of trying to make lemonade out of lemons, especially given captain Christine Sinclair’s saved penalty in the 50th minute.

The seventh-ranked Canadians outshot No. 40 Nigeria 15-10 (3-1 in shots on target) and dominated possession in the early going, creating chances that they could not convert.

“It feels like we dropped points,” said Sheridan. “It feels like we lost. I think we wanted more from ourselves.”

“But ultimately there was a lot of good things that we’re going to want to take away. We have an incredible team so I know we’ll bounce back really hard.”

With Ireland up next, Priestman wanted her team to look forward not back.

“Of course the team and I are devastated we didn’t get three points. But at the end of the day, we got one (point) and we took two from another team,” she added.

The Nigerians hunkered down and relied on a physical defence as the Canadians took it to them early. But the Super Falcons settled in as the first half wore on and began asking questions of Olympic champion Canada.

Sinclair appealed for a penalty in the 47th minute when she was clipped by Francisca Ordega in the penalty box and went down. There was no call initially, but Finnish referee Lina Lehtovaara eventually pointed to the penalty spot after video review.

It was a good penalty attempt, but a better save. Brampton’s Jessie Fleming, Canada’s penalty taker of choice of late, was on the bench — deemed not fit enough to start.

The Canadian women leave Melbourne on Monday for Perth, some 2,720 kilometres to the west, to face No. 22 Ireland on Wednesday. The Irish are coming off a 1-0 loss to No. 10 Australia in Sydney.

The Canadian women are now 8-14-6 in World Cup play while Nigeria is 4-19-4.

Canada then meets Australia on July 31 back in Melbourne.

Finishing second in Group B would mean a probable round-of-16 date with fourth-ranked England, the reigning European champion.

Canada’s best finish at the World Cup was fourth in 2003. The Canadians, making their eighth trip to the soccer showcase, lost to Sweden in the round of 16 four years ago in France.

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