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Football in China good for Nigerian women, not men, says Mabo


John Obi Mikel, recently stated that “China is not a place for young footballers to play topflight football.”

Former Super Falcons coach Ismaila Mabo has countered a recent claim by Super Eagles captain John Obi Mikel, who stated that “China is not a place for young footballers to play topflight football.”

Mikel, who earned £140,000-a-week while playing for Tianjin Teda in China, recently relocated to England, where he won the Champions League, two Premier League titles and three FA Cups during his 11 years at Chelsea. He had advised young players intending to make big money moves to the Chinese Super Lig to have a rethink.

But Mabo, who led the Super Falcons to the quarterfinal at USA ’99 FIFA Women’s World Cup, the best performance by any Nigerian coach, told The Guardian yesterday that taking football trade to China is a good adventure for women.


“If Mikel Obi is refereeing to both male and female footballers, then his advise is wrong because China is one of the best football playing nations for women,” Mabo said.

“In 1999, I led the Falcons to the World Cup, and China actually did very well by reaching the final. They played goalless draw against USA, but lost 5-4 on penalty in the final. Another Asian country, Japan, won the 2011 edition of the Women’s World Cup in Germany. They got to the final again four years ago in Canada, but lost to USA.

“I believe that going to China is not a waste of time for our girls. They will equally get richer by playing in the Chinese league. But I won’t advise our male players to go there because male football is not strong in China. It is like the situation in USA, where their women have emerged world champions, and their male team still struggling to find their bearings at FIFA World Cup.”

A Super Falcons midfielder, Francisca Ordega, recently moved from United States side, Washington Spirit, to Chinese side, Shanghai. The move came a few days after another Super Falcons star, Asisat Oshoala, relocated from Dalian Quanjian in China to FC Barcelona women’s team in Spain.

To Mabo, the decision by Ordega to take her football career to China would make positive impact in Super Falcons’ campaign at France 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup.

Ordega had joined the United States National Women’s Soccer League side, Spirit, in 2015, scoring 13 goals in 63 appearances. 

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