How NFF Is Sabotaging Super Falcons’ World Cup Campaign 11 Days To Kick-off
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By Amaechi Agbo
Today makes it 11 days to the commencement of the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand. The tournament will kick-off on Thursday next week to be exact.
32 nations will assemble their best legs in football to try to dethrone reigning champions United States National Women Soccer Team, USWNT.
Nigeria, among the few nations with 100% record appearance since the inception of the tournament in 1991, will be hoping to reach the knockout stage of the competition, a feat they first achieved 24 years ago after they were knocked out by Germany 3-0 in the Round of 16.
As the global football fiesta starts on Thursday next week, on Friday, the following day, the Group B match between Super Falcons of Nigeria and Olympic champions, Canada will be on. Yet, the team’s camp in Gold Coast, Australia is anything but cordial, hopeful.
Countries who are participating in the tournament have all along organised friendly matches for the teams in preparations for the mundial. Debutants, Zambia shocked the world on Friday when they defeated European giants and World Cup favorite, Germany 3-2 in a warm up match. Zambia also beat Nigeria 1-0 to win bronze in 2022 Africa Women’s Cup of Nations, AWCON in Morocco.
However, Nigeria’s Super Falcons are yet to play any friendly game despite Nigeria Football Federation, NFF’s assurance that the team will engage top opponents in friendlies ahead of the tournament.
The importance of friendly matches, (Grade A for that matter) is not only crutial but critical at this very moment of the team’s preparations.
Nigerians expect a good outing from the team despite the not-so-good news emanating from the team’s camp daily
The federation’s decision to cancel the players’ match bonuses due to FIFA’s $30, 000 participation fee to be paid to all players in the tournament at the group stage, is an ill-advised prospect with the team threatening to boycott their opening match against Canada on Friday next week
Also, the bickering between the NFF and the Super Falcons coach, Randy Waldrum is also another uninvited distractions capable of sabotaging the efforts of the ladies. At a points countries football managers are putting heads together to ensure their teams’ success at the tournament, NFF, surprisingly, are busy throwing spanner into the team’s work.
If that is not a concern enough, the team which currently train in Australia are not yet complete with 22 our of 23 players in camp.
As at Saturday night, Rosengard midfielder Halimatu Ayinde from Sweden is yet to join the camp while CSKA Moscow star Francisca Ordega from Russia teamed up with the team on Saturday
The team confirmed the incompleteness of the players in camp on Saturday via its Twitter handle
“Camp Updates! Our camp in Gold Coast swelled with the arrival of CSKA Moscow star Francisca Ordega from Russia.
We now have 22 players in Australia for the @FIFAWWC
“Still awaiting Rosengard midfielder Halimatu Ayinde from Sweden” the team said.
Last week Sunday, the nine-time African champions arrived Gold Coast in Australia for a 15-day camping ahead of the tournament.
Nigeria is paired in Group B described as “group of death” alongside Canada, co-host nation Australia and Northern Ireland Republic.
Nigeria’s first match of the final is against Canada, at Melbourne’s Rectangular Stadium, on Friday, 21 July, before clashes with co-host nation Australia and Republic of Ireland on Thursday, 27 July and Monday, 31 July respectively, at the Lang Park in Brisbane.
With the calibers of opponents in the group it would be foolhardy and suicidal for the Super Falcons not to play a high profile friendly match/es before their opening match on Friday next week.
Nigeria football followers are in aghast over the situation of the team in camp ahead of the tournament and NFFs refusal/failure to organise warm up matches for the team with 11 days to kickoff is not only a source of worry but NFF should be held culpable for the team’s unimpressive outing at the tournament should this be their fate.