Women’s World Cup: ‘Controversial’ FIFA rule gives Nigeria lifeline

Super Falcons
Super Falcons

Two days after a FIFA rule broke the hearts of many Nigerians, the same rule may help the country qualify for the next round of the tournament.

On Monday, the Super Falcons of Nigeria were heartbroken as their qualification hopes for the Round of 16 at the ongoing Women’s World Cup in France was thrown in the balance due to a controversial newly-introduced FIFA rule.

The new rule (at penalties) is that the goalkeeper must have at least one foot on the line and once this is not fully adhered to, a retake is given and the goalkeeper cautioned.

In Monday’s match between France and Nigeria, Wendie Renard’s first attempt went wide, but scored with a second opportunity, following a video replay showing Chiamaka Nnadozie marginally in front of the goal line.

However, 48 hours later, that same rule seems to have given Nigeria a lifeline as Argentina remarkably albeit with the help of VAR came from three goals down to force Scotland to a 3-3 draw.

With this development, Scotland have been sent home after the same thing that happened in the Nigeria-France game played out in the dying moments against Argentina on Wednesday.

However, Scotland’s heartbreak is now Nigeria’s joy as the chance of the Falcons to qualify for the Round of 16 has just gotten brighter.

Argentina also have a small lifeline with two points. The South Americans will need New Zealand vs Cameroon and Thailand vs Chile to be drawn to pull through.

Out of the four slots available for the best third-placed teams, two has already been taken by China and Brazil who have four and six points respectively from their group games.

For the Super Falcons to confirm their place, they would be fine if New Zealand vs Cameroon and Thailand vs Chile games end in stalemates.

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They would also pull through if the winner of New Zealand vs Cameroon game does not record more than a goal margin victory.

Also, if Chile fail to secure more than a two-goal margin win over whipping girls, Thailand, then the Super Falcons are sure to finish ahead of them in the final standings.

Should Chile win massively against free-conceding Thailand (let’s say 4-0), they will go ahead of Nigeria on goal difference and it will then depend on how the Cameroon v New Zealand encounter end.

This, many have argued, is due to VAR. Overzealousness from referees has led them to rely on video assistance for every marginal call.

The current standings of 3rd-placed teams

1. Brazil (6 points, +3 goal difference)
2. China PR (4 points, 0 goal difference)
3. Nigeria (3 points, -2 goal difference)
4. Argentina (2 points, -1 goal difference)
5. Cameroon (0 point, -3 goal difference)
6. Chile (0 point, -5 goal difference)

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