By Olawale Alabi
Nine–time African champions Nigeria will clash with reigning Olympic champions Canada in two friendly matches that will hold over three days in the cities of Vancouver and Victoria City.
Ademola Olajire, Director of Communications at the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) who disclosed this in a statement on Wednesday, said both matches would take place Friday (Vancouver) and Monday (Victoria City).
He said it was in preparation for the matches that two players –— defenders Onome Ebi and Glory Ogbonna —- were among the team’s contingent which left Nigeria on Tuesday night.
“The group connected a flight from Frankfurt to Vancouver on Wednesday. The other players are to head direct for Vancouver from their bases in Europe and the American continent,” Olajire said.
Canada’s Women National Team are the reigning Olympic champions, having won the gold medal at the Olympic Women’s Football Tournament in Tokyo in August 2021.
They had beaten Sweden on penalty kicks following a 1-1 draw after regulation and extra time in the gold medal match.
On their part, the Super Falcons have won the African title nine times and recently qualified for the 2022 Women’s Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) finals holding in Morocco in July.
This was after a 3-0 aggregate win over Cote d’Ivoire in February.
Team newcomers Ifeoma Onumonu (in Abuja) and Esther Okoronkwo (in Abidjan) accounted for the goals which avenged the Falcons’ elimination from the Tokyo Olympics race by the Ivorians.
Olajire said NFF has organised this two-match tour against the Olympic champions as part of the Super Falcons’ preparations for the 12th Women’s AFCON in Morocco.
He quoted NFF General Secretary Mohammed Sanusi as saying: “There are no longer minnows or minions in African women football.
“Since the championship in Morocco will serve as the qualifying tournament for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup, we cannot afford to take chances.
“Only the four semi-finalists in Morocco will qualify for the Women’s World Cup to be hosted by Australia and New Zealand next year.
“So, it is important that our girls get the best of preparations possible.”
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Friday’s clash at the BC Place in Vancouver is another date for both teams after many years.
They drew 3-3 at the 1995 FIFA Women’s World Cup finals in Sweden.
Both will again clash at the Centennial Stadium in Victoria City on Monday.
The two matches will kick off at 7:30 p.m. Nigeria time (3:30 a.m. Vancouver time) on Saturday and Monday.(NAN)(www.nannews.ng)