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FIFA picks former Falcons coach, Omagbemi as match commissioner

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Former Super Falcons coach, Florence Omagbemi is among ex-players picked by world football governing body, FIFA, as match commissioners in the 2019 Women’s World Cup, which kicks off today.

The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) while appointing new coaches in 2017 left out Omagbemi, who led the Falcons to win the African Cup of Nations trophy in 2016 in Cameroun.

The decision did not go down well with many Nigerian football fans, who were of the opinion that Omagbemi was victimised by the NFF following protest by the players over non-payment of camp allowances and bonus after the Nations Cup victory in 2016. She was nomination by FIFA for the Coach of the Year award after her success in Cameroon.

Omagbemi left her base in the United States of America on Tuesday afternoon and arrived in Paris, France on Wednesday for the World Cup duties.

“I am happy to be part of the France 2019 Women’s World Cup as a match commissioner,” Omagbemi told The Guardian shortly on arrival in Paris. “I thank FIFA for the opportunity and I promise to play my role diligently.”

Before her appointment as Falcons coach in 2016, Omagbemi was part of the Nigerian U-20 Women team’s technical crew that got to the semifinal in Japan in 2012. She worked with former Falcons coach, Edwin Okon in Japan.

Her profile has been on the rise since then, especially at global level. That same year, FIFA listed Omagbemi as a member of Women’s U-17 World Cup organizing committee held in Azerbaijan. She was also a member of the FIFA Women’s U-17 World Cup organizing committee at Costa Rica in 2014.

In 2015, Omagbemi was elevated to the senior rank, as she was listed as a member of FIFA’s Technical Study Group (TSG) for Canada 2015 Women’s World Cup.

Omagbemi was the second ex-Falcons player to handle the women senior team. The first was ex-striker, Uche Eucharia, but she failed with the team, as she could not qualify the girls for the All Africa Games in Maputo and the 2012 Olympics in London. Eucharia could not also take the team beyond the group stage at Germany 2011 World Cup.

For 16 years, Omagbemi was one of the amazons who shouldered Nigeria’s quest for glory in both CAF and FIFA Women’s championships. From the inaugural edition of the World Cup in China ’91, to Sweden ’95, USA ’99 and USA 2003, Omagbemi was in the defence, providing cover for goalkeeper Ann Echiejine against oppositions.

Omagbemi and her ‘golden’ generation of the Super Falcons reached the second round of the FIFA World Cup at USA ’99 under coach Ismaila Mabo, where Nigeria narrowly lost the semifinal ticket to Brazil. Till date, the record still stand as Nigeria’s best at the World Cup.

Before then (1998), she led the Falcons to capture the maiden AWC title in Abeokuta. She also won it in 2000, 2002, 2004 and 2006.


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