Waldrum, who also coaches the University of Pittsburgh when Nigeria aren’t in camp, and has previously managed Houston Dash in the NWSL, has not been permitted to bring his assistant manager, Lauren Gregg, with him to the tournament by the NFF. In response to Waldrum’s words, the NFF’s communications director Ademola Olajire called Waldrum an “incompetent loudmouth”, “Mr Blabbermouth” and “the worst coach [we] have had by a country mile”.
Despite having been an ever-present in every edition of the Women’s World Cup, Nigeria were seen as a 250-1 shot to win the world title overall this summer. When they shocked the co-hosts Australia in Group B, Waldrum said: “Nobody believed in us, except us”, praising his side’s “heart”.
Chelsea manager and Telegraph Sport columnist Emma Hayes, who earlier in her career studied for her B licence coaching qualification on a course run by Waldrum in the United States says: “He’s a top, top coach – it will be no easy game for England. He’s one of the best coach educators I’ve ever had, he’s got a really good manner about him. He taught me a lot around patterns of play, especially in the 4-3-3. He taught me a lot of things and I think it’s right to be wary of Nigeria.”
England will also need to be wary of Nigeria’s Barcelona forward Asisat Oshoala, who finished as the Catalan club’s top scorer with 21 league goals in 28 top-flight games in Spain last season, and helped her club win their second Women’s Champions League title. Their squad also includes stars from the top leagues in France, Portugal and the USA, and they will hope to cause another upset against Sarina Wiegman’s side and reach the quarter-finals for the first time since 1999.