NFF, Mabo mourn ex-Super Falcons star, Ifeanyi Chiejine
Nigerian women football suffered another major loss yesterday following the death of former Super Falcons midfielder, Ifeanyichukwu Chiejine.
Chiejine, who captained the first set of the Nigerian U-19 Women’s team to the first FIFA U-19 (now U-20), under the late Coach Peter Egudia, died at about 10.00 p.m. on Wednesday night after a brief illness.
In November last year, the nation’s women football recorded the death of one of Nigeria’s most successful midfielders, Ajuma Ameh-Otache, who died at the age of 33.
Chijine’s death on Wednesday came barely a few days after the pioneer General Manager of Delta Queens Football Club of Asaba, Gbenga Esan died. He has been buried.
No details of the her cause of death has been given, but The Guardian learnt from a family source yesterday that Chiejine gave up the ghost at a Lagos hospital at about 10.00 p.m.Her former coach in the Super Falcons, Ismaila Mabo broke down in tears when the news of Chiejine’s death got to him yesterday.
“What? Ifeanyi Chiejine is dead?” Mado screamed. “My God, we have lost another great player. Her death is a big loss to women football in Nigeria and the entire world,” he stated.Mabo recalled some of their great moments, when Chiejine played her him in the Super Falcons. “I actually brought Chiejine to the Super Falcons some years ago. I discovered her during one of our scouting programmes, and I decided to invite her to the national team because of her ability of combining both legs in the midfield. She didn’t disappoint me on arrival in the national team because she was able to wrestle with the big girls, who had been regulars in the team.
“That was how Ifeanyi became part of us in the Super Falcons. But there was one occasion I was forced to drop her from the team when we were going for Athens 2004 Olympics Games because she was sick and couldn’t recover on time for the trip. As I said, her death is a big loss to women football in Nigeria, Africa and the entire world. My condolence to members of her family,” Mabo stated.
In its reaction, the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) said it was ‘terribly saddened’ at the news of Chiejine’s demise. NFF General Secretary, Dr. Mohammed Sanusi, was momentarily speechless after being informed of the passing of the former player.
“This is a huge shock. We had no idea that she was sick. Ifeanyi was one of the most naturally gifted players to have featured for the Super Falcons. Her death at such a young age is a big blow.“She gave one hundred per cent of her ability and capacity each time she turned out for country. We will always remember her as a bundle of skill and energy, and as a patriotic individual, who wore the green-white-green with a smile every time.”
Chiejine was born in May 17, 1983, and she played for SSVSM-Kairat Almaty in the Kazakhstani Championship.
She also played for FC Indiana in USA’s W-League, KMF Kuopio and PK-35 Vantaa in Finland as well as Zvezda Perm in Russia.
With the Super Falcons, Chiejine was part of the team to U.S. ‘99 FIFA Women’s World Cup, where she played alongside the likes of Ann Chiejine, Judith Chime, Yinka Kudaisi, Adanna Nwaneri, Kikelomo Ajayi, Stella Mbachu, Rita Nwadike, Gloria Usieta, Mavis Ogun, Prisca Emeafu, Nkeiru Okosieme, Florence Omagbemi, Florence Iweta, Nkechi Egbe, Patience Avre and Mercy Akide.
They defeated Korea DPR 2-1 and Denmark 2-0 to hit the quarterfinal, where they lost 4-3 to Brazil through a golden goal after coming back from 0-3 down to equalize 3-3.
Chiejine was also part of Super Falcons squad to U.S. 2003 World Cup and China 2007. She also featured at Sydney 2000 Olympic Games soccer event, as well as Beijing 2008.She played at four Women African Cup of Nations finals (South Africa 2000, Nigeria 2002, Nigeria 2006 and Equatorial Guinea 2008) and; at the women’s football tournament of the 9th All-Africa Games in Algiers in 2007. As at 2007, the late Ifeanyi Chijine had scored 15 goals in 61 games for Nigeria.