In build up to Canada 2015 there was extensive web and press chatter about how the results would fall in the notorious "Group of Death".

Many of these pre-tournament analyses were boldly predicting that Australia would bottom the group with losses to USA, Sweden and Nigeria.

It took a tenacious first half showing from the Matildas against title favourites the USA to turn many of these early naysayers around.

Australia drew the attention - and perhaps more importantly - the full respect of the world football community in those 45 minutes of football.

Now Australia's 2-0 defeat of African champions Nigeria serves to further highlight the Matildas as a dark horse contender.

A pacey and intense affair was anticipated in this match-up and Australia and Nigeria did not disappoint.

Both sides came out pressing in attack from the beginning and neither was able to claim the lions share of possession.

Fans of the Australian team would hardly recognise such a confident and relaxed side in the face of such an intense opponent.

Some would argue that the Nigerian's lacked the sharpness of their finish but much credit can be attributed to Australian back four of Steph Catley, Laura Alleway, Alanna Kennedy and Caitlin Foord. The defenders were persistent enough to keep the pressure on Nigeria at all times.

Two very important words spring to mind: clean sheet.

This is in contrast to the Matildas previous campaign in Germany 2011 where defensive errors proved costly on multiple occasions.

Forward Kyah Simon paid homage to the defence;

"We always knew Nigeria would be more unpredictable - they really have a strong physical presence on the field and we had to match that. I keep going back to our defence, but we were so solid in our back four and we created our chances and got the two goals on the end of it"

The turning point for the game was Simon's opening goal before the first half. The sophisticated build up and clean finish set the tone for the remainder of the game.

In a match that felt like "whoever scores first will win" - the game was won with that goal.

Nigeria put on a big push with a pair of subs early in the second half but despite testing Lydia Williams the accumulation of off-target shots saw them dropping their heads.

Nigeria scored 3 goals against Sweden and are renowned for their potent strikeforce in Asisat Oshoala, Ngozi Okobi and Francisca Ordega and it was expected they would put a few past Australia as well.

Australia sealed the deal with Simon's second goal off an uncleared cross as she again calmly beat the goalkeeper.

All in all Australia looked strong however, the forward line on occasion becoming mildly static (particularly towards the end of the first half) with less creative runs that Stajcic's style demands.

Perhaps this was a tactic in conserving energy against a pacey opponent but it can leave Australia vulnerable without possession of the ball.

A key moment and what will be much talked about was the horrible off-ball elbow to Sam Kerr's head by Ugo Njoku in the second half.

A former young and inexperienced Australian side may have faltered in that circumstance in the frustration of no actions from the referee.

But Australia appeared to stay focused and not risk an infringement or fuel the fire by seeking 'revenge'.

Captain Lisa De Vanna highlighted the broader concerns about the incident.

"There's always consequences in those situations so I hope that FIFA or whoever's in control would be alert and would take some control over that because Sammy's a big key player for us.

If she has a concussion she could miss the next game and that's a big loss for us."

De Vanna was deservedly voted the Player of the Match but Coach Alen Stajcic highlighted defender Elise Kellond-Knight as his best player.

Kellond-Knight is no stranger to World Cup plaudits having been named in the best starting XI in Germany 2011.

Defender Catley summed up the high expectations Australia have set for themselves in Canada.

"I still don't think we've played the best football that we can play. It's amazing to get the win but there's still lots to work on."

Moving forward the next challenge is how Australia can tackle Sweden who have come off a scoreless draw against USA (forcing a goal line clearance and some sweeping from Hope Solo along the way).

Catley highlights the need for improved pace setting and more assertive decision-making.

"For Sweden, I think we need to move the ball across the field better. We need faster ball speed to get their back line moving so we can open up our flanks.

We're still forcing it at times - it's go, go, go, instead of slowing it down and playing at our own pace."

The Matildas slogan of "Never Say Die" still rings true but this team are not the underdogs of World Cups past.

The Australia of 2015 are a proactive and talented group who have a realistic plan to not just escape 'the Arena' but emerge victorious.