FC Rosengård and Super Falcons central midfielder – Halimatu Ibrahim Ayinde, has been named among The Sun’s 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup Best XI, following her astute performance for Nigeria at the 9th women’s Mundial in Australia and New Zealand.
Halimatu, 28 years old was recognized for her solid positioning and composure in the middle of the park through the campaign, notably in the Super Falcons’ Round of 16 clash against Lauren James of England, when she was marked out and frustrated by Ayinde to the tune of getting sent off.
Despite missing the tournament’s opener against Canada due to an outstanding suspension from last year’s AWCON, Ayinde stepped up to the podium in the following game against co-host Australia as she held up her end of the bargain beside teammate Christy Ucheibe, who was also solid in midfield.
Ucheibe featured as a deep-lying playmaker with her box-to-box play while Ayinde sat in the holding position to protect her back line from the threat posed by the Aussies who had a mix of young and experience in Kyra Cooney-Cross and Katrina-Lee Gorry.
Nigeria won the game against Australia upon Ayinde’s return to the squad as her input from the heart of the pitch remained effective, albeit playing 75 minutes before getting subbed off by Onyi Echegini.
Ayinde featured for 90 minutes in the subsequent fixtures against Ireland and England with the team maintaining their solid defensive structure, consequently keeping two clean sheets in two games before crashing out on a penalty shootout.
The Best XI predominantly featured players from the tournament’s final, with England starring five (5) players while Spain had three (3), alongside one player each from Sweden, Japan, and Nigeria.
The Sun’s FIFA Women’s World Cup Best XI in positions:
Mary Earps (England)
Ona Battle (RB, Spain), Amanda Ilestendt (CB, Sweden), Millie Bright (CB, England), Olga Carmona (LB, Spain)
Kiera Walsh (CM, England), Halimatu Ayinde (DM, Nigeria), Aitana Bonmati (CM, Spain)
Lauren Hemp (RWF, England), Hinata Miyazawa (ST, Japan), Lauren James (LWF, England)