Super Falcons vs Cote D’Ivoire: When victory celebrations turned sour

Super Falcons vs Cote D'Ivoire: When victory celebrations turned sourSuper Falcons celebrating 1-0 win over Cote D'Ivoire

The Nigerian Senior Female Football Team, the Super Falcons, took on their counterparts, the Lady Elephants of Cote D’Ivoire, on Wednesday, February 23, 2022, in the second leg final round of qualifiers for the African Women Cup of Nations, AWCON.

The match which took place in Abidjan ended 1-0 in favour of the Super Falcons.

Super Falcons vs Cote D'Ivoire: When victory celebrations turned sour

Super Falcons celebrating 1-0 win over Cote D’Ivoire

The team had earlier won the first leg 2-0 in a match played at Moshood Abiola National Stadium, Abuja.

The second victory over their Ivorian opponents undoubtedly sealed a qualification ticket for the team to Morocco, in July, 2022.

Morocco is hosting this year’s African Women Football Championship.

With qualifications ticket in the kitty, the entire team was no doubt in celebration mood as they departed the Ivorian capital, barely two hours after the match through a Chartered flight enroute Abuja.

On arrival at Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, the team’s Celebrations, and joyous mood was short-lived, and turned sour by overzealous Airport and Health Officials.

According to a senior member of the Super Falcons Team, Onome Ebi, who tweeted on her Twitter handle,

I’ve never experienced such in my life. Abuja international Airport locked Super Falcons players at the airport

The Super Falcons were reportedly delayed for over three (3) hours at the Airport, and subjected to traumatic experiences due to Covid -19 protocols, and all terminal exit doors at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, were said to have been locked up by the Officials.

One of the players of the team, Uchenna Kanu, was said to have laid on the floor of the Airport critically ill, and in severe pains. Reacting to the unfortunate, and very ugly development, the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) on Thursday described the Airport incident as ‘unfortunate.’

The NFF General Secretary, Mohammed Sanusi, had in a statement on Thursday, explaned that,

It was an unfortunate incident because we had our protocol officers on the ground at the airport and they did the needful before the team arrived. We are a responsible organization and the various National Teams have been going out and returning to Nigeria since these covid19 protocols, procedures and guidelines started. We’ve never been caught napping. The issue had to do with Covid-19 protocols and we had no control over how things would be approached by the officials in charge at the airport each time. In this particular case, we fulfilled our part of the requirements. However, some other group of individuals arrived at the same time as the Super Falcons’ contingent and were bent on circumventing the process, and this compelled the health officials to adopt stern measures and even lock up some of their offices. It was beyond us, but we’ve already apologized to our players and officials over this incident.”

On his part, Nigeria’s Minister of Youth and Sports Development Minister, Mr Sunday Dare, strongly condemned the unpleasant treatment of Super Falcons players at Abuja Airport on their return to country after the AWCON Qualifiers.

The Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Mr. Sunday Dare, has strongly condemned the unpleasant treatment of the Super Falcons on their return to the country.

According to reports the Minister who was clearly disappointed with the incident, said that acomplete account of what happened has been received by his office and that his Ministry will send it to the National Centre of Disease Control (NCDC) and the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) to thoroughly investigate the matter and ensure that our footballers, sports men and women are treated fairly and respectfully.

The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) will meet with the relevant authorities to review and ensure that this type of situation does not happen again, the reports further stated.

Justapose the above to the red carpet reception given to the Zambian Female Football Team, Shepolopolo, after qualifying for AWCON 2022 at the expense of the Namibian Female Team after playing a one all draw, the first leg had ended goal-less.

According to reports from Zambia,

“The First Lady, Mutinta Hichilema has Implored the Shepolopolo to work hard and ensure that they put up a good performance at the 2022 Africa Women’s Cup of Nations – AWCON to be staged in Morocco this year.”

The First Lady spoke at State house after she hosted a luncheon in honour of the Shepolopolo as a toast to their qualification to the Africa Women’s Football Championship.

The First lady said the team has brought honour and glory to the country by qualifying to the – AWCON.

And according to reports from the Football Association of Zambia-FAZ- Facebook page, the First lady urged the ladies to continue working hard and finish off the good job at the tournament to be staged in July.

She has since expressed optimism that the team will be among the top four teams at the AWCON and qualify to the World Cup that will be co-hosted by Australia and New Zealand in 2023.

The big question now is, when will Nigeria start getting things right as a nation?

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About the Author

Obum Akawor
A retired Senior Civil Servant and sports journalist. A Fellow, Chartered Institute of Administration, FCAI.

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