By DAVID IORJA, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari on Saturday warmly congratulated the Super Falcons of Nigeria on their victory over the Banyana Banyana of South Africa in the final match of the 11th Africa Women Cup of Nations (AWCON), Ghana 2018.
In the congratulatory message issued in Abuja by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, the President expressed particular delight at the discipline and commitment exhibited by the country’s senior women football team despite the stiff resistance of their South African counterparts.
The Super Falcons won the 9th African title by beating South Africa’s Banyana Banyana 4-3 on penalty kicks at the 11th AWCON in Ghana on Saturday evening.
The penalty kicks came after a 0-0 draw following extra time of over 120 minutes play in the tension soaked match.
Noting that the Super Falcons had earlier qualified to represent Nigeria at the FIFA Women World Cup tournament in France next year, President Buhari described winning the AWCON for the third consecutive time and ninth overall, as the “icing on the cake.”
Saluting the country’s female football ambassadors for doing their fatherland proud and showing clear dominance on the African continent, Buhari urged them to approach the France 2019 competition with clear focus and determination to excel on the global stage.
President Buhari also commended the team’s coaching crew, the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF), Supporters Club and all football-loving citizens for adequately preparing and supporting the players, enjoining all stakeholders not to relent in rallying round the country’s football representatives going forward.
“I have never doubted the capacity of Nigerians to excel when given the right support,” he notes, while promising the Federal Government’s commitment to sports development as a unifying force.
Reacting to the victory, a former Goalkeeper of Green Eagles, Emma Okala, said the Super Falcons displayed Nigerian spirit of resilience to win their ninth African title in Ghana.
Okala told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Enugu that the Super Falcons `worked hard and fought hard for the victory’.
He said: “It is a thing of joy. They worked so hard for it.
“Even when the odds were against them, they displayed the Nigerian spirit of resilience to win their ninth title.’’
Okala said that the major lesson to be learnt from the 11th edition of AWCON was that every country had come of age in football whether male or female.
“There is no push over country in football again in Africa,’’ Okala, who was one time Goalkeeper Trainer for the Super Eagles, said.
On its part, the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) called on the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) to start earnest preparations for the 2019 Women World Cup in France.
National Public Relations Officer of NANS, Mr Bestman Okereafor, made the appeal in a congratulatory message issued to NAN on Saturday in Enugu.
According to him, NANS is appealing to the President of NFF, Amaju Pinick, to keep to his promises towards ensuring adequate preparation and welfare for the Super Falcons ahead of the 2019 Women World tournament.
The association congratulated the Super Falcons over their well-deserved victory at the just-concluded 11th AWCON in Ghana.
“For Super Falcons making the nation proud this support must be given; as promise made, must be promise kept!,’’ he added.
NAN reports that the Super Falcons defeated South Africa’s Banyana Banyana 4-3 on penalty kicks after a 0-0 draw following extra time play at the 11th AWCON in Ghana on Saturday.
“NANS wish to congratulate the Super Falcons for their successful defend of the African Women Cup of Nations (AWCON) title for a consecutive and historic ninth time in Accra, Ghana.
“This came after they trashing out the Banyana Banyana of South Africa 4-3 via penalty kicks,’’ Okereafor said.
NAN reports that with the win at the 11th edition of AWCON, the Super Falcons has successfully won their ninth African title.
(With additional report from NAN)