By Izuchukwu Okosi:
Super Falcons defender Onome Ebi regrets the decision of the Mali Football Federation to withdraw its women national team from their 2016 Rio Olympics qualifier against Nigeria this weekend due to ‘financial reasons’.
The Falcons will represent Africa as the continent’s champions at the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Canada along with Cote d’ Ivoire and Ghana. They will also participate in the 2015 All African Games women’s football event.
However, the team coached by Edwin Okon have not had the best of preparation ahead of the World Cup.
The game against Mali would have served as good avenue for further team building for the team currently camped in Abuja.
FK Minsk of Belarus defender Ebi reflects the mood amongst the players while speaking with Completesportsnigeria.com
“The players and coaches were looking forward to the game but there is nothing we can do about their decision to pull out.
“Apart from hoping to qualify for the next round of qualifiers to the Olympic Games, it would have served as preparation for the World Cup,” Ebi said.
The Falcons star who was a member of the Nigerian national team that took part in the 2003, 2007 and 2011 World Cups and the 2008 Summer Olympics further tells Completesportsnigeria.com that they are looking forward to playing a couple of friendlies before the World Cup begins in June.
“I don’t know the plans of the NFF towards playing friendlies before the World Cup, but the team is ready for such opportunities. We are all fit in camp,” the former Bayelsa United centre back enthused.
Meanwhile, Dilichukwu Onyedinma, the Head of the women’s department of the Nigeria Football Federation in a radio programme monitored in Lagos revealed that the NFF are finalising plans for friendlies against countries like England, Canada and New Zealand, albeit she would not give out any dates for such matches.
The Nigeria Football Federation President Amaju Pinnick has returned from a trip to England on medical reasons, though he met with officials of the English FA in London during his stay.