Nigeria will head to the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia/New Zealand with an eye on the 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup Quater-final run as benchmark.
Not just the Super Falcons, that remains the best finish at the competition by any African country, so it would be historic if there is a step further for Zambia, South Africa, Morroco or Nigeria not forgetting Cameroon who could still qualify from the playoffs.
SUPER FALCONS SQUAD AT THE 1999 FWWC
Coach Ismaila Mabo was in charge of the 20-woman squad which included the likes of Florence Omagbemi, Ann Chiejine, Yinka Kudaisi, Martha Tarhemba, Adanna Nwaneri, Eberechi Opara, Kikelomo Ajayi, Stella Mbachu, Rita Nwadike.
Gloria Usieta, Marvis Ogun, Prisca Emeafu, Judith Chime, Nkiru Okosieme, Maureen Mmadu, Florence Iweta, Nkechi Egbe, Patience Avre, Mercy Akide and late Ifeanyi Chiejine.
The Super Falcons got their tournament to a flying start with a 2-1 win over North Korea at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, legendary forward Mercy Akide and Rita Nwadike on the scoresheet to secure a first FIFA Women’s World Cup win.
The euphoria from that win will be crushed days later with a 1-7 loss to the USA in a game the Falcons drew first blood through Nkiru Okosieme in the 2nd minute.
Ismaila Mabo and the girls will recover from the loss to secure a 2-0 win over Denmark at the Jack Kent Cooke Stadium near Washington DC, to claim second spot in group B and reach the quarter finals.
Against Brazil in the quater-final, the Super Falcons produced a superlative performance to secure 3-3 regulation time score after trailing 0-3 at the break.
Prisca Emeafu, Nkiru Okosieme and Nkechi Egbe the scorers for the Falcons who would later bow out following a golden goal scored by the Brazillians in the 104th minute.
AKIDE RECALLS MEMORABLE 1999 ADVENTURE
Mercy Akide a member of the Super Falcons squad to the 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup shared memories from the tournament with FIFA more than two decades after.
She said “We were willing to do die for it. We went there with a mission: to set a higher goal for African women’s football. We did that. ”
“We gave everything we had to make female football grow not just in Nigeria but in Africa because the game wasn’t respected.”
” We wanted to show everyone that we could play, no matter where we came from or what we faced to get there. We tried as African women to show that we could do something that didn’t involve being at home or in the kitchen or serving men, that we could play the game.”
Twenty-fours since then, Women Football in Africa has developed to a competitive level where the Super Falcons of Nigeria are no longer undisputed like in the days of Akide.
South Africa and Morroco have so developed their women football that both editions of the CAF Women’s Champions League have been won by their clubs, while both also locked horns in the final of the last AWCON.
Nigeria reach the Last-16 at the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup, a standard commiserate with the quater-final place at a 16-team tournament.
At the 2023 edition , Nigeria is drawn alongside Australia, Republic of Ireland and Canada in Group B of the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup and stand a fair chance of progressing from the group.
The tournament will kick-off on July 20, 2023, the Falcons getting their tournament underway vs Canada on July 21.
Despite finishing outside the top three at the last Africa Women’s Cup of Nations, Nigeria ended 2022 as the top ranked team on the FIFA rankings in 45th spot.
Captain of the team Onome Ebi in an interview last year gave clue on what the Thomas Dennerby tutored ladies will be targeting at the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
” I want to thank the NFF for their support all through our invitational tournaments right from Turkey to US and many others and now in Canada,” Ebi said in a video published on the Super Falcons Twitter handle.
“I’d say it’s really helping the team, it’s helping the new players to blend with the old players and it will help us go really far if we keep on doing this.
“I believe they will keep on doing this for us because they promise us we are going to play as many matches and international matches not just Africa just like we are playing Canada. So I think with this kind of competition that they’ve promised us and they are fulfilling their promises it will take us really far.
“And I want to thank them and appreciate them and I will still urge them not to stop because we need more of this and with more of this we will go far. If we have more of this kind of friendlies, I believe there’s nothing God cannot do and I believe in God because I’m a Christian, we can win the World Cup, first, second, third give it to us I’m aiming towards that.
“By the grace of God if I make my past World Cup, I’m saying my last World Cup because I don’t know what God would do, but in my last World Cup we might go first, second, third and I trust my girls.
“Thank you NFF we appreciate you but don’t stop, keep making us happy and we will make you and ourselves proud.” She concluded.
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