Super Falcons defender Onome Ebi says they are determined to ‘repay’ Ivory Coast ‘in their own coins’ when both sides clash in a 2022 Women’s Africa Nations Cup next year after the Ivorians accounted for Nigeria’s failure to qualify for the 2020 Olympics.
Ebi made the declaration when players and backroom staff of the Falcons paid a courtesy call at the offices of the Nigeria Football Federation in Abuja on Monday.
The Super Falcons are rounding off a nine-day training camp in the nation’s political capital in preparation for the Ivory Coast encounter and were at the offices of the NFF to show gratitude for the support shown to the team throughout the year.
Nigeria will battle the Ivorians in a home-and-away final elimination fixture for the 12th Women’s AFCON slated for Morocco in the summer of next year.
Both legs of the fixture will take place in the month of February. It is at the Women AFCON in Morocco that Africa’s flagbearers at the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup finals in Australia and New Zealand will emerge.
It will be a first meeting between both sides since the Ivorians eliminated Nigeria from qualifying for the football event of the Tokyo games and Ebi admits the bitter taste still rankles in the minds of the players.
The long-serving defender said the team is determined to avoid a repeat and vowed nine-time record African champions Nigeria will ensure the Ivorians are served a taste of their own medicine and denied a chance to make Africa’s showpiece for women national teams.
“I can tell you that we still nurse the pain of missing out of the Tokyo Olympics as a result of the loss to Cote d’Ivoire in the qualifying series,” Ebi said.
“This time, we will repay them in their own coins. Personally, I want to play in the Africa Cup of Nations and the FIFA World Cup, and I know it is the same for my teammates.”
Also speaking at the event, head coach Randy Waldrum praised the NFF for steadfastly backing the team and providing the coaching crew with the means to make the team better.
“I am very delighted with the support the Federation has always given to the team; this has helped our work,” Waldrum said. “I am happy we had this training camp as we were able to see the home-based players and the overseas-based, and everyone bonded very well. It has been a marvellous experience and the joy among the players is palpable.
“We will look to have periodic campings like this in order to be able to put forward the best of Nigeria women players for matches and championships at any time.”
General Secretary of the NFF, Dr Mohammed Sanusi said the Federation will always ensure to provide the Falcons with the best conditions to train and play friendly and competitive matches, in order to do the nation proud each time.
“We will set aside resources to organize more of this type of camping so that we will always get the best from home and abroad and blend them to perform at an optimal level when the need arises,” he said. “We are aware of the challenge that Cote d’Ivoire will pose when we confront them for a place at next year’s Women AFCON. We need players who are committed and are proud to dorn the country’s colours and will strive to deliver no matter the circumstances.
“Football is the strongest unifying force in our country, as you can all attest given the diversity in your camp. We have players who are home-based, some overseas-based and some that are visiting the country of their birth for the first time! I believe it is a very interesting and pleasurable experience for those who are in the country for the first time ever.”
This year, the Super Falcons have played at the Turkish Women’s Cup in Antalya, participated at the USWNT Summer Series in the USA, had a training camp in Austria and played at the 1st Aisha Buhari Invitational Tournament.
FALCONS WHO WERE INVOLVED IN THE TRAINING CAMP:
Goalkeepers: Onyinyechukwu Okeke (Bayelsa Queens); Ibubeleye Whyte (Rivers Angels); Uchenna Chukwu (Nasarawa Amazons)
Defenders: Onome Ebi (Minsk FC, Belarus); Maureen Okpala (Nasarawa Amazons); Patricia George (SC Sand, Germany); Ashley Plumptre (Leicester City, England); Miracle Joseph (Bayelsa Queens); Joy Duru (Nasarawa Amazons); Nicole Payne (West Virginia University, USA); Michelle Alozie (Houston Dash, USA); Glory Edet (Bayelsa Queens); Akudo Ogbonna (Edo Queens)
Midfielders: Adekite Dada (Watford FC, England); Peace Efih (Kiryat Gat, Israel); Yetunde Aluko (WFC Ramat Hasharon, Israel); Amanda Mbadinuju (Bayelsa Queens); Goodness Onyebuchi (Edo Queens); Grace Igboamalu (Bayelsa Queens); Toni Oyedupe Payne (Sevilla FC, Spain); Regina Otu (Minsk FC, Belarus); Christy Ucheibe (FC Sevilla, Spain)
Forwards: Rasheedat Ajibade (Atletico Madrid, Spain); Esther Okoronkwo (AS Saint Etienne, France); Mary-Ann Ezenagu (Rivers Angels); Anam Imo (Pitea IF, Sweden); Vivian Ikechukwu (Rivers Angels); Gift Monday (FC Robo); Juliet Bassey (Bayelsa Queens); Chinonyerem Macleans (Gonirk Leczna (Poland)