Former Super Falcons captain Desire Oparanozie has revealed why she was stripped of the skipper’s armband after the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France.
The 26-year-old power forward, who quit French side En Avant Guingamp recently, was shockingly deposed as Nigeria’s captain despite leading the team to the second round of the World Cup – the Falcons’ best outing in the tournament since 1999 when they reached the quarter-finals.
Subsequently, Barcelona Feminine star Asisat Oshoala was appointed as Oparanozie’s replacement by interim coach Christopher Danjuma just two months after the World Cup, with no explanation given for the decision.
But Oparanozie, a 4-time winner of the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations, disclosed that ‘a lot of things happened,’ including her insistence that the team gets the financial entitlements they were owed by the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) three years earlier, which she believes ultimately culminated in stripping her of the arm-band.
“A lot of things happened, and people don’t really know what’s happening inside, they only view things from outside and all of that” the former Bayelsa Queens striker said in an exclusive interview with Black Ballers Podcast.
“One of the issues we had, and I’m going to put it out there now so people will have a fair idea of what transpired. This is just one of them.
“Before the World Cup (in 2019), actually, we were being owed from way back 2016. 2016 to 2019, that’s three years. And ever since we were owed, they (NFF) kept making promises; ‘we will pay you, we will pay you’ and three years went by.
“So, we were like ‘you guys can’t keep promising us; we will, we will, we will. We don’t even trust you people any more. All the time we will, we will, we will. At the end of the day, I mean, we are not kids. We have families who rely on us and all of that’.”
After back-and-forth deliberations, Oparanozie disclosed that the NFF only offered to settle the financial entitlements of players who were present in France but she refused, insisting that all the players who were owed must be paid.
They were all eventually paid after her insistence, and that was the beginning of Oparanozie’s problem.
“Bottom line, we deliberated on it, they finally paid us from our backlog from 2016.” she added.
“So, what they did was they paid only the people present. I mean the people that had part of the money that were then in the team. Then, lots of the people that were owed but were not in the team then, they didn’t pay.
“And I’m like ‘no, it doesn’t work like that, it’s not fair. It is not. All the people that have share from that money that are not in this team, I mean, they should receive their monies first before us that are here (in France).
“So, that was one of the problems, and they obviously didn’t like it. But knowing how they do things and all of that, If I hadn’t done it that way, those people won’t get their monies, and they would say ‘you people are selfish and all of that, you’ve gone to collect your monies, you didn’t even bother for us to collect ours.”
Oparanozie’s stance did not go down well with the NFF and she added that she has no regrets for her actions as it is for the overall good of the team.
“So, that was part of the problems and some of them swore that ‘we are not going to have this. She is…I mean, we can’t control her’ and all of that,” the former Delta Queens star further added.
“But it is not my problem. I did what I felt was right. Even if that’s the only thing I did, I’m very happy.”
It would be recalled that, following Nigeria’s exit from the World Cup, the team staged a sit-in protest to demand unpaid bonuses, thereby exceeding their official stay in France by a day.