Ngozi Okobi: Frequent player changes cost Nigeria at Women’s World Cup

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Ngozi Okobi says the frequent changing of players was to blame for the struggles of Nigeria’s senior women’s team at the Women’s World Cup tournaments.

Okobi has featured twice at the senior Women’s World Cups – at Canada 2015 and France 2019 and also won four in five appearances at the African Women’s Cup of Nations, with Nigeria.

The 26-year-old played a vital role in the Super Falcons’ success at the last three continental events and also starred at the World Cup in France where they reached the Round of 16 last year.

Having only progressed twice in eight attempts from the group stage, the Eskilstuna United midfielder believes they could lose their dominance in Africa if the trend is not checked.

“We dominated Africa but struggle at the global level because what we are practising is the frequent change of players, instead of team building,” Okobi said in an Instagram interview with the 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.

Nigeria at women's world cup

“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.

“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.

“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.

“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.”

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