As the Super Falcons of Nigeria prepare to face the Grasshoppers of Norway in their first match of the 8th FIFA Women’s World Cup finals in Reims on Saturday, midfielder Ngozi Okobi says they have a team that can pull their weight.
Concise News reports that the Falcons – one of only seven teams to have made it to every edition of the FIFA Women’s World Cup finals since the inaugural competition in 1991 – have made it out of the group stage only once previously, and that was 20 years ago.
A 2-1 defeat of North Korea and a 2-0 win over Denmark, either side of a 7-1 roasting by Team USA, steered the African champions to the quarterfinals, where they came back from three goals down to draw with Brazil before losing by the golden goal in extra time.
Nigeria’s closest walk to the knockout rounds since then was Germany 2011, where they lost by the odd goal to both France and Germany and then defeated Canada by the odd goal.
Speaking to thenff.com, Okobi says: “It is true that we have not really pulled our weight at the FIFA World Cup before now. But I can say we have the team to do that here in France. The NFF has done well by ensuring good preparation for the team, with the tournaments that we played.
“A lot is hanging on the first match against Norway. If we are able to get a good result, then we will take it from there.”
Norway comes into the encounter with the mindset that they should be able to steamroll the African champions. Only last week, the Grasshoppers hammered another African representative, South Africa 7-2 in a friendly.
Saturday’s encounter between Nigeria and Norway starts at 8 pm. The tournament kicks off today with France taking on South Korea.