By John Essien
President of the Nigeria Football Federation and FIFA Council Member, Mr Amaju Pinnick has hailed the Super Falcons for their gallant display despite the several odds and obstacles in their Women AFCON semi-final encounter against host nation Morocco in Rabat on Monday night.
Nigeria lost 5-4 on penalties following a 1-1 draw in which they were massively disadvantaged by the dismissals of Halimatu Ayinde and Rasheedat Ajibade—the hero of the quarter-final—even though Morocco failed to make the most of their numerical advantage during the contest.
After the keenly contested match, Falcons supporters were quick to point out how Morocco needed questionable officiating against Nigeria who had two players set off—and lasers to get past the favourites for the tournament.
“Of course, we would have been happy to be in the Final and chase a 10th title. But I am happy with the performance of the team and the way and manner they approached the game despite all sorts of setbacks and intimidation.
“To play 50 minutes of a game with only nine players is not an easy task. The Super Falcons gave their all and were truly fabulous. They had the ‘Nigeria spirit’ in them and showed a sense of patriotism, were dogged and refused to give up. Penalties are forever a lottery, so it could have gone either way. I commend the team for the outing.”
Pinnick added that he is delighted with the strong pipeline at the moment, with the U20 girls and U17 girls having also qualified for their respective FIFA World Cup tournaments and boasting interesting prospects who can easily fit into the senior team.
“The supply line looks strong enough to continue to present us with good and ambitious players for the coming years. We will have a delightful combination of experienced and youthful players for the World Cup finals.”
Already, the NFF has reeled out four friendly matches for the Falcons in the Fall, with the team scheduled to play the United States Women’s National Team in Kansas City and Washington D. C in September, and also to fly to Japan to take on that country’s women’s squad in Kobe in October. Both opponents offer diversity in style and approach.
Nigeria, Morocco, South Africa and Zambia have qualified automatically for the 32-team FIFA Women’s World Cup fiesta to be staged in five Australian cities and four New Zealand cities 20th July – 20th August 2023. Cameroon and Senegal will battle for slots at a 10-team Playoff Tournament in New Zealand early next year.
The Super Falcons have arrived in Casablanca on Tuesday for Friday’s third place match against Zambia at the Complexe Mohamed V.