‘We risked our jobs to support Falcons in Canada’
Even with the on-going FIFA Women’s World Cup now in the quarterfinal stage, some Nigerian residents in Canada are yet to overcome the early exit of the Super Falcons from the race.
The seven times African champions flattered to deceive in their first game, in which they came from behind twice to draw 3-3 with old timers, Sweden, here in Winnipeg. Rather than keep the momentum, the Coach Edwin Okon-led Falcons went to sleep, losing to Australia and USA consecutively to wave goodbye to the World Cup.
Speaking with The Guardian during the week, the President of Nigerian Residents Association in Manitoba, Winnipeg, Sylvester Aghidi, described the team’s early exit as painful, but added that the players gave their best in the competition. “The players did their best, but I feel Nigeria got eliminated early from the championship due to poor technical knowledge of the game by the handlers. The NFF has a lot to do in that area,” Edo State-born Aghidi said.
According to him, Nigerian residents in Canada gave the Falcons the support they needed to stay longer in the race. “Immediately after the World Cup draws were made, and Nigeria was named in this venue (Winnipeg), we started making preparations on how to give the Falcons the necessary support. We wrote to our Embassy, seeking to know the programme of the team so that we could prepare ahead of time. Unfortunately, we didn’t get response from them (Embassy) early enough, maybe, due to the May 27 handover of government back home.”
Speaking further, Aghidi, an ex-footballer in the old Bendel State, said: “We continued with our preparation for the team despite not hearing from the Embassy on time. We mobilised our members from different parts of Canada and many Nigerian football supporters came from Toronto. It was a great joy seeing your country feature in a FIFA World Cup. Some of us had to stay away from our jobs for days just to give the Falcons the support they needed to do our country proud. You know what it means to leave your duty post here for days. But some of us had to do it for the love of our country and the love we have for football.
“It would have been great if the Falcons were still in the competition, at least, to the quarterfinal stage. As I said, the players gave a good account of themselves, but our technical crew didn’t rise to the occasion,” Aghidi
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