Australian goalkeeper, Melissa Barbieri, has revealed the Australian women soccer team, Matildas held practice games against male youth teams to prepare specifically for Nigeria at the World Cup due to the Falcons’ skillful and unpredictable style of play.
As Nigeria played very few games after winning the African Women’s Championship in October 2014, Australia had limited opportunities to analyse and study the Falcons before the World Cup.
With little information to go on, the Matildas spent much of their near six-months of training playing against male teams, specifically to counter the unique style expected from the African champions.
Strong, quick, agile and with a penchant for taking on opponents, there was little more knowledge available to the Australian coaching staff about the African side.
Consequently, the Matildas specifically played games and trained against elite male teenage teams while in camp in Australia. Some members of the Matildas were still nursing minor wounds and cuts in early May from those games and Barbieri is hopeful those bruising games have prepared them to overcome the entertaining Nigerians.