June 25, 2024

Central News

at the center of it

FIFA lifts Super Falcons 8 spots, now 32nd in the world

…Nigerian ladies round off ‘lap of honour’ at home

Nigeria’s Women Football national team, the Super Falcons, have moved eight places to become 32nd in the world and first in Africa in the latest FIFA omen’s ranking released on Friday.

The Falcons were previously listed in the 40th position in rankings released in June before the FIFA Women’s World Cup (FIFAWWC).

Yesterday, however, Super Falcons many of who have been criss-crossing states receiving “handshakes” in high places, had the second highest point increase of 94.14 to move from 1,554.94 to 1,649.08.

They were only second behind Morocco, who had a point increase of 104.22 to move from 1,334.08 to 1,438.3 and are ranked 58th in the world.

Nigeria had a good campaign at the 2023 Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, finishing second in their group without losing a game.

That was before eventually bowing out to the Lionesses of England after a 4-2 loss on penalties in the round of 16.

Sweden, which earned a third-place finish at the World Cup, is now ranked number one in the world, knocking down U.S.A. to the third place.

Similarly, World Cup winners Spain are now ranked second in the world, with the U.S.A., England, and France completing the top five in the latest rankings.

So, it would appear that the Falcons’ joy is becoming complete as members of the squad go from state to state, being feted.

First Lady, Senator Oluremi Tinubu hosted them last week at the Presidential Villa, Abuja. That was a day after the Osun State governor feted the two Osun-born members of the team.

Super Falcons with First Lady Sen. Remi Tinubu…

The First Lady, who held a similar meeting with the victorious Nigeria female basketball team, D’Tigresses, last Monday, has since encouraged Nigerian female sports personalities by hosting them.

In a show of recognition and support, Osun State Gov. Ademola Adeleke hosted Rasheedat Ajibade and Rofiat Imuran, Super Falcons players, of that state origin.

…With Gov. Adeleke.

The event was held to honor the duo’s outstanding performance at the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup, where they proudly represented Nigeria. Ajibade and Imuran presented their jerseys to Gov. Adeleke, along with a specially-crafted jersey bearing his name.

The governor commended for their dedication and achievements during the global sporting event, acknowledging their pivotal roles in representing the nation.

The visit took on a moment of pride as the governor shared the details of the occasion on his Twitter handle: “This morning I received Osun State-born Nigeria Super Falcons players, Rasheedat Ajibade and Rofiat Imuran.”

A few days later, three other Super Falcons (all three saying they began their professional football carriers in a Lagos club) went to be greeted by Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu.

…With Gov. Sanwo-Olu.

It was a similar atmosphere of excitement when the Lagos governor wrote on X-page: “Honoured to have received some team members of our remarkable Super Falcons at the Lagos House in Marina earlier today.

“Asisat Oshoala, who came in company of Rasheedat Ajibade and Monday Gift, came to pay us a courtesy visit.

“The Super Falcons’ incredible run at the FIFA Women’s World Cup has ignited a new era of enthusiasm for women’s football in Nigeria.”

The three players who visited the governor started their careers at Lagos-based Club Robo FC.

Then another set of four of the players, of Imo State origin, comprising Desire Oparanozie, Chiamaka Nnadizie, Osinachi Ohale and Tochukwu Oluehi went to Owerri to be hosted by Gov. Hope Uzodinma.

… With Gov. Uzodinma.

Perhaps, this was the most exciting of the visits for, Sen. Uzodinma praised the heroics of the ladies at the world tournament and said to them, “The Prophet must be known in his hometown.”

He joyously promised them a cash gift  of $10,000 each and a plot of land in Owerri while challenging them to continue in these might as the goal is to bring the world cup home some day soon.

“You are from Imo State and we have a responsibility to give you all the support to encourage you in your career and ensure that whatever that we can do to support the growth and advancement of your career, we will do that. So officially we are welcoming you and actually think that you deserve also to be appreciated by a state government.

“First, I would like to give you all one plot of land in Owerri and also give you a cash reward of $10,000. Before you leave, you drop your particulars for the allocation of the land with the principal secretary while in few minutes time they’ll come with a cash promise so I can give you for you to leave this place. So, thank you.”

In Owerri, it was Desire Oparanozie who spoke for her colleagues, describing the governor as a father who had shown love, care and support even when they had a not-so-good tournament.

Next another set of four headed for Umuahia to greet Gov. Alex Chioma Otti of Abia State. The four Super Falcons players from Abia State, had go to the governor’s country home in Isiala-Ngwa South LGA.

Super Falcons with Gov. Otti and others.

There, Otti and his wife, Pricilla and some of his aides played host to the four Falcons, with the same level of enthusiasm as their peers had getting in the other states.

These were Glory Ogbonna, Christy Ucheibe, Uchenna Kanu and Esther Okoronkwo. Later, Gov. Otti wrote on his Twitter handle:

“Yesterday, I received our Super Falcons players from Abia State (Uchenna Kanu, Esther Okoronkwo, Christy Ucheibe, and Glory Ogbonna), who made their mark at the just-concluded FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023.

“Although luck was not on their side, the accomplishments of these players highlight the progress and development of women’s football in Nigeria and further elevate the profile of Nigerian football on the international stage. I am sure their achievements will inspire the girl child in Nigeria and Abia in particular, thus paving the way for even greater success in the future.”

The Super Falcons are indeed enjoying a deserved lap of honour’.