Canada captain Christine Sinclair missed a penalty and with it the chance to become the first player in history to score at six World Cups in Canada’s 0-0 draw with Nigeria.
The 40-year-old striker, making her 324th appearance for the Canada national team, saw her spot kick saved by Nigeria goalkeeper Chiamaka Nnadozie early in the second half.
Nnadozie was impressive throughout the Group B contest, making a number of vital saves to earn a determined Nigeria side a crucial point.
Deborah Abiodun was then shown a late red card, but the 10 players of Nigeria held on for the goalless draw.
“I’m probably going to embarrass her, but I think she’s one of the best young goalkeepers in the world,” Nigeria coach Randy Waldrum said, according to the BBC.
“I think Chiamaka’s save really lit the fire and made us realize there’s still something to play for.”
Sinclair is one of three players in history – alongside Brazil’s Marta and Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo – to score at five FIFA World Cups.
One of football’s all-time great goalscorers, Sinclair has racked up a remarkable 190 international goals and will have the chance to add to her tally – and make history – when Canada faces the Republic of Ireland, which lost 1-0 to host Australia on Thursday.
Canada is considered to be among the favorites to compete for the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand following its recent successes.
In 2021, it won the gold medal at the delayed 2020 Tokyo Olympics, beating Sweden in a penalty shootout to claim its first major international title.
Despite victory at the tournament, Canada has struggled when it comes to World Cups despite its talented squads.
It has reached the knockout stage of the last two editions of the tournament, including reaching the round of 16 in 2019 which marked the first time the team had reached the knockout stage of a World Cup held outside of the US and Canada.
However, with its increasingly star-studded squad – comprised of players regularly appearing and winning trophies around the world – expectations are high this year.
From plenty of attacking depth in Sinclair and Adriana Leon to a resolute defense comprised of players such as Allysha Chapman, Kadeisha Buchanan, Shelina Zadorsky and Ashley Lawrence, it is difficult to pick out a weakness in Canada’s team.
Nigeria, the highest-ranked African team at the 2023 tournament at 40th in the world, will next face host Australia on July 27.
Although the Super Falcons reached the round of 16 in 2019 – the first time it had done so since 1999 – Nigeria has lost more matches and conceded more goals at the World Cup than any other team.
Over the years, Nigeria has become one of the fixtures of the World Cup, playing in its ninth edition as one of seven nations to have featured at every tournament.