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Super Falcons will go beyond Women’s World Cup R16 — captain Onome Ebi

SUPER Falcons captain Onome Ebi is confident that the team will not crash out of the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup in the group stages.

The tournament is scheduled for Australia and New Zealand from July 20 to August 20, with Nigeria and 31 other teams participating in its biggest edition in history.

The nine-time African champions are drawn in Group B with newcomers Republic of Ireland, Olympic champions Canada and co-hosts Australia, but Ebi is not fazed.

Although the Super Falcons have regressed under American head coach Randy Waldrum, posting their worst-ever Women’s Africa Cup of Nations performance in Morocco last year, the World Cup veteran still believes in her team.

“We are not just going to be part of the competition, but going to break records and surpass our previous outing (in 2019) which was round of 16,” the 40-year-old defender said during the send-off dinner held in the Super Falcons’ honour in Abuja on Saturday night.

At 40, Ebi will be one of the oldest players at the World Cup, and she is attending her sixth tournament, the most by any African player in history.

The dinner was hosted by wife of President Bola Tinubu, Senator Oluremi Tinubu, who urged the Falcons to be dominant at the global showpiece.

“You are the shining stars and pride of Africa. I charge you to go all out and do your very best to dominate other teams, and become the pride of the entire world,” Tinubu said in a speech read on her behalf by Dr. Betta Edu, ruling All People’s Congress National Women’s Leader.

“I am proud to note that our Super Falcons have remained in that mix of the very best globally in the world of football. They have featured in every single edition of the FIFA Women’s World Cup finals since the competition started in 1991, and our country is also one of only seven countries worldwide to have done so.

“While our Falcons made it to the quarter-finals at the 1999 finals in the United States of America, and reached the second round at the last championship in France, our expectations as a nation and as a people is for a much better performance at what is certainly the biggest and best championship yet, in Australia and New Zealand starting from 20 July.”

The best Women’s World Cup outing ever by an African team was achieved by the Super Falcons in the United States of America in 1999 when the continental giants reached the quarter-finals where they lost narrowly to Brazil.

Apart from Nigeria, Africa will be represented in Australia and New Zealand by Morocco, Zambia and WAFCON champions South Africa.

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Naija Times