Okobi explains why Nigeria dominate Africa but struggle at World Cups

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Super Falcons midfielder Ngozi Okobi believes that the team’s reshuffling, chopping and changing instead of having a group of players to build a squad around is the main reason why they struggle at the FIFA Women’s World Cup events.

Okobi says developing cohesion is imperative for a team to even stand a chance of winning a World Cup and the time for experimenting and blooding new players ahead of global events should end.

“We dominated Africa but struggle at the global level because what we are practicing is the frequent change of players, instead of team building,” said Okobi in an Instagram live interview with the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF).

“The Nigeria Football Federation should set-up a system that grows with the players. New players can be introduced into the squad because I understand some players will get tired but let the figure be reasonable to maintain the structure.” – Okobi. 

“The 2015 Women’s World cup squad could have been a channel of ‘Super Falcons’ to continue with. You don’t build a team in one year and expected them to face a team that has been together for years and still triumphs,” she added.

Okobi is an experienced campaigner with two World Cup appearances, in Canada 2015 and France 2019 and has also featured in five Africa Women’s Cup of Nations (AWCON).

In the latest FIFA World Rankings, Nigeria are 38th in the World while they are number one in Africa.

“Countries like Canada, USA, England, France and Brazil, have most of the players from the last World Cup. After the 2015 World Cup, most players were dropped and replaced.” – Okobi.

“We don’t have a squad probably been together for three to four years, rather we have a team that was broken going into the Africa Women’s Cup of Nations, broken again going to the Women’s World Cup and later broken again going into the Olympic qualifier.

“We don’t even have the opportunity to play good international friendlies together. We don’t get to master the plan together, but we expected to beat a team that has been together over the years,” insists the midfielder, who plays for Swedish side Eskilstuna United DFF.

The 26-year-old was part of the Super Falcons side that reached the round of 16 at the 2019 Women’s World Cup in France, playing a key role in the middle of the park.

Okobi in the colours of Eskilstuna United DFF.

“We just have edge over Africa countries due to having more and experienced players abroad, but I won’t be surprised if other Africa countries catch up with us because countries are developing and building their women’s football teams.

“If care is not taken, in the next two years, we will stop being the giant of Africa in women’s football,” concluded Okobi.

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By Tokelo Martin Mokhesi 

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