Last Sunday was unofficially Women’s Football Day in Nigeria with two of the female national team in action in different parts of the world. The Falconets had their last group game of the 2016 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in faraway Papua New Guinea while the Super Falcons had their opening match of the 2016 Africa Women Cup of Nations later in the day in nearby Cameroon.
The U-20 female team needed to defeat Spain by a 5 goal margin to progress to the quarter final or hope that Canada could pull a surprise and defeat Japan. The former was easier but the Falconets could only defeat Spain 2-1. Japan thrashed Canada 5-0. Spain, Japan and Nigeria finished with 6 points each but Nigeria’s negative goal difference knocked them out of the competition.
It is a bad time for the age-grade teams in Nigeria. Early in the year, the Golden Eaglets (U-17), the Flying Eagles (U-20) failed to make it to the African Championships. The female teams failed to progress from the group stage in each of the 2016 Women World Cups. Rasheedat Ajibade was the shining light. She would be a great Falcon. Imagine her with Asisat Oshoala.
In Cameroon, the Super Falcons whitewashed Mali 6-0 in their opening match of the 2016 Africa Women Cup of Nations. Arsenal’s Asisat Oshoala grabbed four goals for Nigeria. Francisca Ordega opened scoring for the Falcons before Asisat made it 2-0 before half time. Uchechi Sunday made it 3-0 after the break from the penalty spot before Oshoala went haywire. It was the Falcons’ 4th consecutive win over Mali in the AWCON.
It was a 50th win for Nigeria in the competition and their dominance is such that n other team have won as much as half of that. Nigeria will play Ghana next. Ghana were the last team to beat them in the group stage in 2002. It is never easy defeating the Black Queens but there is belief in the Falcons’ camp.