Francisca Ordega scored a late equaliser for Nigeria to earn a 3-3 draw with Sweden in their Group D Women’s World Cup opener on Monday, signalling that Africa will make an impact during the month-long tournament.
A day after Germany crushed the Ivory Coast 10-0, Nigeria restored African pride with an all-out attacking style that won over the fans and shocked the fifth-ranked Swedes.
With Sweden hanging on for the win, Ordega ran onto a perfect pass from Ngozi Okobi and confidently fired the ball past the goalkeeper Hedvig Lindahl in the 87th minute.
Nigeria had Sweden on the back foot for much of the match but found themselves 2-0 down at half-time after an own goal by Desire Oparanozie and a tap-in from Nilla Fischer, both scores coming from Sweden corners and the product of sloppy defending.
But the speedy Nigerians continued to press forward in the second half and were rewarded for their enterprise as they scored twice in a three-minute burst from forwards Okobi and Asisat Oshoala, who out-muscled Fischer for the ball at the top of the penalty area and then kept calm to score.
The Swedes were quick to respond, regaining the lead when substitute Linda Sembrant kneed a cross past Nigeria’s goalkeeper Precious Dede before Ordega levelled.