The Super Falcons of Nigeria were eliminated from the Tokyo 2020 Olympics Qualifiers last month on the away goal rule after playing a 1-1 aggregate scoreline at the Agege Soccer Temple following a goalless draw in Abidjan.
This was revealed EXCLUSIVELY to #YourSportsMemo by a member of the squad from that debacle at Agege Stadium. The aura surrounding the team at the moment is such that she wants her identity protected before she is victimised.
At the final whistle by the referee, there seemed to be some form of confusion between the players and match officials as to what was next. Eventually, after some phone calls and checking of rule books or documents so it seemed, everyone dispersed.
At the media stand, journalists were also left confused with no one having a concrete explanation to what had just happened so www.aclsports.com reached out to find out what happened.
“First of all, in their own home (Abidjan) we didn’t know what was at stake because we never knew away goals counted and some of the players that knew didn’t tell us. Because after the final whistle in Agege everyone was like penalty and someone said no oh, there is no penalty, away goal counts. So the other players were so mad that why didn’t they tell us what was at stake because the rules change every time and we didn’t know what was happening,” our source (who was in the squad) recounted.
“The first leg away, we missed good chances and thought we would finish up the job back home but at the end of the day we realised that everything changed,” she added.
Didn’t the coaches tell you what was at stake and all that www.aclsports asked? “The only thing they kept saying was let’s finish the game there (Abidjan), come home, relax and play. I didn’t hear anything like away goal counts and I think I wasn’t the only one because that day after the second leg in Agege Asisat (Oshoala) kept telling the referee penalty! penalty! The referee was like hold on let me confirm if it will be penalties or extra time. Even the referee was confused and had to confirm the rules again,” she said.
Are you saying that even the referee was unaware? ”Yes, because when the captain (Oshoala) went to the match commissioner saying it should be penalties, the woman was like hold on. She made a call (although I don’t know who she called) and they gave her an instruction that once the final whistle has gone that’s the end, so after the call the woman told us that it has finished.”
So you mean that throughout the qualification CAF didn’t make the rules clear or what exactly went wrong? “Maybe they (CAF) did because after the final whistle they (Cote d’Ivoire) were dancing and started rejoicing and I was like why are they dancing so maybe they knew,” she added.
Ending the international break on such a note with every one having to return to their respective clubs what was the mood in the team after all that drama and uncertainty? “Everyone was angry,” our source said. “The competition comes every 4 years and some of the players were like they would have played this last tournament before retirement while the young players were like there is no guarantee such opportunity will come again so everyone was angry about it including the coaches. Everyone felt really bad,” she concluded.