By Albert Akota
Nigeria, the African champions, has arrived in France for the 8th FIFA Women’s World Cup finals. The delegation of the Super Falcons landed at the Aeroport Charles de Gaulle just before 5pm yesterday, three days to the kick-off of the tournament.
Although their best performance till date has been a quarter final appearances at the third edition of the competition in the United States of America 20 years ago, the Super Falcons is one of only seven teams to have appeared in every edition of the championship since it was launched in China in 1991. The others are the senior women teams of Germany, Norway, Brazil, USA, Sweden and Japan.
In France, the nine –time African champions are up against host nation France, Norway and Korea Republic in Group A. They open their campaign against Norway on Saturday in Reims, before other matches against Korea Republic in Grenoble (12thJune) and France in Rennes (17th June).
Meanwhile, NFF has educated on what signs, symbols and issues constitute threats to the integrity of the game.
The Integrity Officer of the Nigeria Football Federation, Barrister Okey Obi, took the Falcons’ players and officials through the fine lines of integrity variables at their EventHotel Pyramide in Vosendorf, Austria on Monday night, ahead of their departure to France on Tuesday.
“Match manipulation, in one way or the other, poses serious threat to the careers of football players in particular and the growth and development of football in general. That is one of the reasons FIFA has made integrity briefings mandatory for teams heading to the FIFA World Cup finals.
“In order to generate, capture and sustain the interest of the players and the officials, I enlisted the buy-in of the Head Coach, Mr. Thomas Dennerby and the captain, Desire Oparanozie. I also made the presentation interactive, with one of the players, Onome Ebi, a veteran of several World Cups, Dennerby and an assistant coach sharing their experiences and helping with practical examples and potential situations of match manipulation,” Barrister Obi, who is the Single Point of Contact (SPoC) for Nigeria for the 8th FIFA Women’s World Cup finals.
Obi rated the session as highly successful: “I was pleasantly surprised with the level of acceptability which actually surpassed my expectation. The players were very attentive and participated actively; they took pictures of the slides during the presentation and appeared to truly like the features of the mechanisms, especially the anonymity of the reporting that considered the safety and security of the person reporting.
“The briefing was a huge success considering that it was the first time this was happening in respect of women football.”