‘Falconets: Forever teenagers’

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National women’s Under-20 coach Langton Giwa said his team will not read much into problems that have hit his Fifa U-20 Women’s World Cup first round, first leg opponent, but will rather concentrate on his charges.

The Young Mighty Warriors face a controversy-riddled Falconets side at the MKO Abiola Stadium in Abeokuta in three weeks time with the reverse fixture set for Harare two weeks later.

There has been a media furore in Nigeria over the age of the Falconets called in camp for the tie
The reports have forced the coach Edwin Okon to expel three players who are over-aged while seven more are also facing the axe for similar reasons.

In one of the damning articles published yesterday by a local newspaper The Guardian, headlined “Falconets, Forever Teenagers,” the writer, quoting numerous sources including former Nigeria U-17 women coach Segun Odegbami, questioned the eligibility of most of the players in the Falconets squad.

“Is the Nigeria Football Federation trying to convince us that a player like Ebere Orji represented Nigeria at the 2008 edition of the Fifa U-20 World Cup at the age of 11 or 12 years? I don’t see the possibility of a Nigerian coach inviting a 12-year-old female player for a U-20 competition six years ago. This is unfair to our football,” read part of the article.

Giwa, speaking from Hwange where the team has been camped since last week ahead of the crunch tie, however, said he would not allow the age-cheating controversy surrounding Nigeria to distract his team’s focus.

“We have set our goals as a team and that is to qualify for the World Cup and make history for the country. And qualifying for the World Cup entails we have to beat any opposition we face in the qualifying rounds. We cannot say those problems in the Nigerian camp give us an advantage. We can take them as a bonus. It would rather be fair though that we face a team with the correct age group unlike in the previous years when we faced teams that were clearly over 20 years.”