Falcons build ‘special nest’ for Aussies

Gowon CanadaTwo years ago, Nigeria’s male senior national team, Super Eagles, added a new twist into football, when then team captain, Joseph Yobo, declared on the eve of their all-important quarterfinal game against the dreaded Elephants of Cote d’Ivoire that they had constructed a special nest for the Elephants.

It became the talk of town, especially, when the Eagles overpowered the boastful Ivoirians 2-1 to earn their semifinal ticket in the city of Rustenburg, South Africa.

Now, their female counterparts, Super Falcons, have decided to borrow a leaf from the Eagles by constructing a ‘special nest’ with the hope of caging Australia in today’s second group match here in Winnipeg, Canada.

The Falcons need the three points badly to stand a chance of progressing to the next stage of the competition, having fought a great battle by coming back twice to secure a 3-3 draw against Sweden in their first game on Monday.

Team captain, Evelyn Nwabuoku, told The Guardian after a training session yesterday that they would use all available methods against the Aussie in today’s game saying: “Australia are in more difficult situation at the moment, having lost their first match 1-3 to USA. So, I see them throwing everything at us, but we have to do all we can to cage them in our nest. We have to win the match.”

In the 2007 edition of the championship staged in China, the Falcons battled the Swedes to a 1-1 draw in their opening group game in the city of Chengdu, only to fail in their second game 0-2 to Korea DPR. They went on to loss 0-1 to USA in their last group match in Shanghai.

This time around, Nwabuoku says there is no room for failure: “The fact that we were able to secure a point in that first game after going down 0-2 is enough to ginger us in our second game against Australia on Friday (today). As I said, we have a special game plan to execute against them (Australia). We know the expectation of people back home and we can’t afford to disappoint Nigerians.”

The Falcons, who are seven times African champions, are carrying the aspirations of millions of Africans in this championship. They won their last African Women Championship title in Windhoek, Namibia, beating the Lionesses of Cameroun 2-0 in the final. But here in Canada, the Camerounians seem to be getting more attention from foreign media, following their ‘six star’ performance against Ecuador, a 6-0 victory in their first game after the third African flag bearer, Cote d’Ivoire, were battered 10-0 by Germany.

The performance of the Lionesses has become a sort of challenge in the Falcons camp. To some of them, it would be laughable if the Lionesses, who are making their first appearance in the World Cup, scale through to the second round and Nigeria crash out in the group stage.  Cameroun have an uphill task later today (Friday), as they face defending champions, Japan, in Vancouver.

The Australians appear ready to give the Falcons a good fight. The Aussies finished second in the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Women’s Cup to grab their ticket to Canada 2015.

The Super Falcons celebrating one of their goals against Sweden...yesterday

The Super Falcons celebrating one of their goals against Sweden…yesterday

While the Falcons are making their seventh appearance in the World Cup, the Aussies have appeared six times in the Women FIFA World Cup, with their best finish being at the China 2007 edition, where they placed 7th.

And like the Super Falcons, who had dominated African football since 1998, the Australian team won the Oceania Women Championship three times in 1995, 1998 and 2003 (before moving to AFC in 2006).

Threatening as the records of the Aussies may look, Nwabuoke and her teammates believe they are capable of carrying the day this afternoon.

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