African champion Nigeria has a great opportunity to become the first team from the continent to win the FIFA Women’s World Cup, so says the Nigeria Football Federation.
Minutes before the team departed its hotel for the Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport, Abuja on its way to Canada on Tuesday night, NFF President Amaju Pinnick challenged the girls to shred their previous World Cup mark in Canada.
In a farewell speech delivered on his behalf by Chairman of the Nigeria Women Football League and Chairman of the NFF Women’s Football Committee, Mrs Dilichukwu Onyedinma, Pinnick said the present Super Falcons have the ability and capacity to go all the way.
“I know you girls are rearing to go, having conquered Mali in a big way in your last competitive match. You have always done the nation proud and I see you doing even better in Canada.
“As African champions, I want you to go to the World Cup this time with a clear determination to do better than any of your predecessors have ever done. Our record in the World Cup is quarter -final berth, set by the Class of 1999. The NFF wants you to do much better in Canada, and we believe you can.”
The Falcons play Sweden, Australia and USA in Group D of the 7th FIFA Women’s World Cup finals, their first match coming up against the Swedes in Winnipeg on June 8.
Both teams also played against each other in their opener to the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup in China, battling to a 1-1 draw in Chengdu.
The African champions performed creditably at the last Women’s World Cup in Germany, losing by the odd goal to the host nation and France, and beating Canada by the odd goal.
Four years earlier, the Falcons drew 1-1 with Sweden and lost 0-2 and 0-1 to North Korea and USA respectively, no doubt distracted by ill-advised agitation for increment in match bonus before the final group game against the Americans in Shanghai.
In truth, results from the last two final tournaments were an improvement on three straight losses in 1991 and 2003, and buoy the spirit of the Nigerian girls as they head to Canada.
Stand –in captain Osinachi Ohale said: “We respect the teams in our group, but we do not fear any team. As African champions, we go in there with a lot of confidence. Last year, our U-20 team did very well at the FIFA U-20 World Cup in Canada, reaching the final. We are motivated by that, as well as all the efforts of the NFF on the team and the incentives by the NFF President.”