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WOMEN'S FOOTBALL

Nigeria getting ready to be ‘on fire’ at the World Cup, says Onome Ebi

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With two days to go until the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup kicks off in Australia and New Zealand, CAFOnline spoke to Nigeria’s Captain Onome Ebi on how the Super Falcons are preparing for their record ninth appearance at the global extravaganza.

The multiple African champions have been drawn in Group B where they will battle out against Canada, Ireland and hosts Australia, and the ambitious Nigerians are slowly folding their sleeves and getting ready to work for a good performance down under.

Q: We are two days away from the start of the World Cup. How is Nigeria getting ready?

Our preparation is going on okay and we are focusing on improving on all fronts; from defense to attack. We are adjusting everything to be ready for the World Cup which is fast approaching. We are focusing on the small details which we don’t want to miss and also, we don’t want to repeat mistakes that we have had in the past.

  1. What are your ambitions for this World Cup?

Our ambition, definitely, is to do our best. We approach this World Cup with the mindset of performing to our utmost best and conquering. We had some disappointments at the last  Women’s Africa Cup of Nations where we did not put the best performance.

We have the opportunity at the World Cup where we do not want to disappoint again. I have faith in my team and I like our current state of mind. The team is united and I believe we will be able to do great things at the World Cup. We are motivated and we want to hoist Nigeria’s flag to the highest point.

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The ball is in our court as players and we have to do everything to be on fire physically and mentally for this opportunity.

  1. A word about Asisat Oshoala who is having an excellent season. She was injured during the last Cup of Nations. What can we expect from her at the World Cup?

It’s a blessing to have her in this team. She is a great professional and an example for the whole team. Her performance at club level is incredible. Many people forget that few months ago she was injured and today she is up on the pitch putting up huge performances both in the local league and the Champions League.

She is one of the best players in the World and speaking to her, she is also hugely waiting for the World Cup and has already set her targets for the tournament. She is doing everything she can to be on top form.

  1. Nigeria are in Group B with Canada, Ireland and Australia. What do you think of this group?

We are aware that we are in a difficult pool. We have the reigning champions Canada who we have faced twice before, losing one and drawing one. Then we have Ireland and Australia who we have not played against.

We know it will also be very tough against Australia because they will be playing at home. We are under no pressure however and we are calm about these matches.

All of these teams have qualified and earned their right to be at the World Cup. We have to be ready to face them.

 

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Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

WOMEN'S FOOTBALL

Dominican Republic 2024:Flamingos land in the Dominican Republic!

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Nigeria’s U17 girls, Flamingos, have secured their ticket to the 8th FIFA U17 Women’s World Cup finals to be staged in the Dominican Republic later this year, after a 2-0 defeat of their Liberian counterparts at the MKO Abiola National Stadium, Abuja on Friday.

Victory took the aggregate tally to 6-1 in favour of Nigeria, with extraordinary poacher Harmony Chidi setting a record of 13 goals in a qualifying series that will be difficult to equal in years to come. She had 11 goals before kick-off, but netted the two goals of the evening to take Nigeria’s total of the series to a whopping 25. Central African Republic fell by a dozen goals while Burkina Faso fell 1-7 on aggregate.

Her first came after only four minutes when she sped past the Liberian defence to toe-poke the ball beyond the flailing arms of goalkeeper Makula Konneh from a cross by Shakirat Moshood.

A goal feast was expected, but this did not happen, as Peace Effiong had a close call in the 17th and Moshood rocked the crossbar a minute after from 20 yards. Moshood also missed from close range with 10 minutes left of the first half.

In the 56th minute, Moshood blasted beyond the goalpost when faced with Konneh, but Harmony Chidi made sure of her brace seven minutes later when she lashed the ball beyond Konneh’s reach as Nigeria seized the ball from a defensive slip-up by the visitors.

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The 8th FIFA U17 Women’s World Cup finals will be staged in the cities of Santiago de los Caballeros and Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic, 16th October – 3rd November.

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WOMEN'S FOOTBALL

‘It shall be showers of goals’, vows Flamingos ahead of Liberia clash

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Head Coach Bankole Olowookere is confident that the Nigeria U17 girls, Flamingos, will not take their feet off the pedal when they take on their Liberian counterparts in a FIFA U17 Women’s World Cup final qualifying match in Abuja on Friday.

“We are battle-ready for the match on Friday. The girls are raring to go because they want to go to the World Cup. They are already dreaming of flying to the Dominican Republic.

“There is so much excitement in camp, and they are self-assured. However, I have warned them that it is never over until it is over. There should be no display of over-confidence on the pitch. We must approach the match like the first leg was a drawn game.”

Nigeria won the first leg 4-1 in Monrovia on Sunday, with 11-goal qualifying series revelation Harmony Chidi, Shakirat Moshood, Peace Effiong and substitute Blessing Ifitezue banging in the goals for the Flamingos. The hosts got their consolation goal off a penalty awarded with five minutes left of the encounter at the Samuel Kanyon Doe Sports Complex in Paynesville.

The Flamingos will take part in the FIFA U17 Women’s World Cup for the seventh time once they cross Friday’s hurdle.

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They featured at the inaugural edition in New Zealand in 2008, and subsequently at Trinidad and Tobago 2010, Azerbaijan 2012, Costa Rica 2014, Jordan 2016 and India 2022, where they won the bronze medals.  

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WOMEN'S FOOTBALL

Flamingos hammer hosts Liberia 4-1, put one leg in World Cup finals

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FIFA World Cup bronze medallists Nigeria routed Liberia 4-1 in a fast-paced FIFA U17 Women’s World Cup final qualifying round, first leg encounter in Monrovia on Sunday.

The Flamingos got off to a pretty quick start at the Samuel Kanyon Doe Sports Complex at the Paynesville, but the Liberian girls, who shocked Senegal on the away-goal rule to reach this final round, warded off the early threats.

Nigeria got the ball into the net after 14 minutes, but Chadian referee Lare Lamngar ruled it off. Not to be deterred or discouraged, the Flamingos poured forward once again, and in the 19th minute, Shakirat Moshood opened the scoring from a sweet solo run.

Peace Effiong, who got a brace in the 6-0 defeat of Burkina Faso at the MKO Abiola National Stadium last month, scored in the 29th minute to put a wedge of respect between the two teams.

Usual suspect Harmony Chidi, scorer of six of the 12 goals that sank the Central African Republic, and who equally netted four in the 7-1 dismissal of Burkina Faso in the last round, headed home her 11th goal of the qualifying series in the 36th minute to put daylight between both teams.

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On resumption, Nigeria continued to dominate, and substitute Blessing Ifitezue made it four with 16 minutes left.

Liberia scored a consolation goal with five minutes left, from the penalty spot, through Yassah Gwaikolo, after substitute Onyedikachi Ekezie was adjudged to have committed a foul in the area.

The Flamingos will return to Nigeria on Tuesday, and immediately commence preparations for the return leg encounter scheduled for Friday at the MKO Abiola National Stadium, Abuja.

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