The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) has firmed up plans to provide African champions, Super Falcons, with what could turn out to be their best –ever preparation for the FIFA Women’s World Cup finals.
Communication Director of the NFF, Ademola Olajire, confirmed yesterday that the Falcons will kick off their preparations with participation in the Four –Nation Invitational Tournament in China between 17th and 20th January.
“It will be followed by participation in the Cyprus Women’s Cup (25th February – 7thMarch), before planned friendly matches with Spain or Canada before a final training camp in Austria that could also take in two tune-up games,” he noted.
On Tuesday, players and officials of the nine-time African champions were at the Embassy of China in Abuja for visa processing. The team is expected to fly out of Nigeria to China on Monday.
Hosts China, Romania and Korea Republic are the other teams taking part in the four –day invitational.
Overwhelmingly voted as the Women National Team of Year 2018 in Africa at the AITEO-CAF African Football Awards in Senegal on Tuesday, the Super Falcons are determined to adequately prepare and be competitive at this year’s global tournament – a championship in which they have only reached the quarter finals once before, 20 years ago.
Already, the NFF has announced that the Falcons will have their final camping programme at the same Avita Hotel and Resort in Bad Tatzmannsdorf in Austria, where the Super Eagles stayed before flying to Russia to participate in last year’s FIFA World Cup finals.
On return from the invitational tournament in China, the Falcons will begin visa processing for Cyprus, where a 12 –Nation Invitational Tournament awaits between 25thFebruary – 7th March.
Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Finland, Hungary, Italy, North Korea, Mexico, Slovakia, South Africa and Thailand are the other nations taking part. Of the lot, Nigeria, Italy, South Africa and Thailand will be going to France.
Spain (who play African team South Africa, as well as Germany and China in Group B) and Canada (who play African team Cameroon, as well as New Zealand and The Netherlands in Group E) have approached Nigeria for friendly matches. Jamaica, who play Australia, Italy and Brazil in Group C, have also written to the NFF expressing interest in playing the Super Falcons.
Nigeria, the only African country to have featured in all previous editions of the FIFA Women’s World Cup since the competition was launched in China in 1991, will tackle host nation France, Korea Republic and Norway in Group A of this summer’s finals.
The Super Falcons will open their account in France against Norway, at the 21,000 –capacity Stade Auguste Delaune in Reims on 8th June, before matches against Korea Republic in Grenoble on 12th June and against hosts France in Rennes on 17th June.
The 8th FIFA Women’s World Cup finals will hold 7th June – 7th July this year, with France up against Korea Republic in the opening match at the Parc des Princes in Paris on 7th June.