Super Falcons lament N10,000 pay after Nations Cup qualification

NFF is broke, says official

At a time female athletes all over the world are canvassing equal treatment with their male counterparts, what appears a setback for women football in Nigeria has taken place.

On Tuesday players of the senior women football team, Super Falcons, were paid a ‘meager’ N10,000 as ‘transport fare’ after being decamped from their Abuja camp.

To some Nigerians, this is in contrast with the senior men’s team, Super Eagles, who got paid $4,000 for a draw and $5,000 for a win.

While the Eagles failed to qualify for the African Nations Cup few weeks ago, the girls did the country proud by booking a ticket to the 2016 African Women’s Nations Cup slated for Cameroun in November.

The Coach Florence Omagbemi-led Falcons defeated the Teranga Lionesses of Senegal 2-0 in the second leg, final round at the National Stadium, Abuja on Tuesday and advanced 3-1 on aggregate for Cameroun 2016 AWC. Nigeria joined hosts Cameroun, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Ghana, South Africa, Cote d’Ivoire and Zimbabwe as the eight finalists for the 10th edition of the continental showpiece.

However, as the players and officials continue to grumble over the ‘meager’ N10,000 given to them by the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) after qualifying for the Nations Cup, a former handler of the team, Coach Godwin Izilien has pleaded with the girls and Nigerians to see reason with the NFF.

In particular, Coach Izilien has told the girls not to feel too bad saying: “The NFF is in serious crisis and I want the players and their officials to understand.”

Speaking with The Guardian yesterday, Izilien, who led the Falcons to win the AWC title in Johannesburg, South Africa in 2004 said: “Apart from the crisis, the NFF is seriously broke. My appeal is for the girls and their handlers to take the NFF for what it is now. I am very sure things will improve soon.”

Coach Florence Omagbemi and her assistants, Ann Chijine and Perpetua Nkwocha, spent over a month in camp for the qualification campaign.

The players were decamped on Tuesday evening and they were handed N10,000 that was meant to get them to their various destinations.

It was not clear if the nine foreign-based players who participated in the Falcons’ qualifying series received their return flight ticket fares.

On their way to Dakar for the first leg against the Teranga Lionesses last week, the Falcons were said to have spent two day, due to what one of the players described as ‘poor’ flight arrangement.

“We spent five hours in Abuja waiting for the flight. We had a stopover in Ghana, where we spent four hours and we also had a stopover in The Gambia before we arrived in Dakar in the morning of the following day. It was the same ‘Israelite’ journey on our way back to Nigeria. The male team will always fly on chartered plane. No problem,” the player lamented.

An official of the NFF who spoke on the condition of anonymity yesterday put the blame on ‘poor’ financial stand of the NFF.

The official said: “Our president (Pinnick Amaju) borrowed money to charter a plan that convened the Super Eagles to Alexandra for the return leg of the AFCON qualifier against Egypt. The Sports Ministry is yet to pay him. He (Pinnick) also borrowed money to foot the bill of the Super Falcons journey to Dakar for the first leg. We are yet to get the money from the Sports Ministry. Things are so bad at the moment and Nigerians should understand our plight.”

Efforts to speak with Pinnick and the Secretary General of the NFF, Mohammed Sanusi yesterday were fruitless.

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