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Knocks for Falode over Falconets’ tortuous road trip to Benin

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The Falconets were camped in Abuja, but were made to undergo the ‘torture’ of spending 12 hours on the journey through a dilapidated road to Benin City for the match, which Edo State government is said to be footing the bills. PHOTO: Ian Walton – FIFA/FIFA via Getty

• NFF Should Have Applied FIFA’s Rule, Says Mabo

The decision by the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) to risk the lives of players and officials of the national women U-20 football team, the Falconets in an 12-hour tortuous journey by road from Abuja to Benin City, Edo State for today’s U-20 World Cup qualifier against Tanzania is not going down well with some stakeholders. The match holds today at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium.

The Falconets were camped in Abuja, but were made to undergo the ‘torture’ of spending 12 hours on the journey through a dilapidated road to Benin City for the match, which Edo State government is said to be footing the bills.

Two ex-coaches of the Super Falcons, Ismalia Mabo and Godwin Izilien were unhappy with the development. In particular, Mabo, who led the Super Falcons to the quarterfinals at USA ’99 FIFA Women’s World Cup, was sad that the Aisha Falode-led leadership of the board of Nigerian Women’s Football would allow such thing to happen to a national team in this modern age.

“There are laid down rules and regulations by FIFA concerning the movement of teams for national assignments,” Mabo pointed out in a chat with The Guardian yesterday. “How come Falode who is the head of women football in the country allowed such thing to happen to the Falconets? I think FIFA’s rule says that any distance of more than 30 km, the teams have to travel be air and not by road. Why didn’t they follow FIFA’s rule? It is nor fair for the NFF to treat the players and their coaches in such a way. If they don’t have the fund, why not allow the team to play the qualifiers in Abuja instead of such tortuous road trip to Benin City? And since Edo State government is hosting the match, Falode should have made it clear in her proposal to the governor that the team should be airlifted and not to travel such long distance by road,” Mabo stated.

On his part, Coach Godwin Izilien who lead the Super Falcons to win the African Women’s Championship title in Johannesburg, South Africa in 2004 said the NFF should learn to do things right. “I am in Benin City but sincerely speaking, I am not interested in whatever the NFF is doing at the moment. From what the NFF is doing, I can say this country is not worth dying for. They should learn to do things properly.”

Meanwhile, Coach Christopher Danjuma said yesterday his team was in a perfect competitive mood for today’s qualifier against Tanzania, just as Governor Godwin Obaseki has directed that the stadium gates be thrown open for the match.



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