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Nigeria's Surprising Feat at the FIFA Women's World Cup 2015

super falcons

Nigerian Super Falcons arriving in Canada for the FIFA World Cup. Image by Izuchukwu Nwoba, used with his permission]

Nigeria's national women's football team, the Super Falcons, blew expectations out of the water on Monday when they tied with Sweden 3-3 at the FIFA 2015 Women's World Cup in Canada.

Aderonke Ogunleye of the Premium Times reported:

Nigeria played a draw with Sweden in a Group D match opener of the FIFA Women’s world cup going on in Canada. […] In the second half, Ngozi Okobi reduced the deficit as she scored Nigeria’s first goal in Canada before Oshoala put Nigeria back on level terms through a fine individual effort after a well-played long ball from Onome Ebi.

The Super Falcons, who are seven-times African champions, are the only African team to have played in the women's FIFA World Cup since 1991.

Prior to the tournament in Canada, the Super Falcons were considered lightweights due to their constant failure in global football, despite being African champions. However, Samuel Ahmadu was hopeful:

Regarded us as outsiders on the world stage over the last two decades, Nigeria re-emerged as African champions last year, reawakening their continental dominance. This achievement could get them fired up to reach the last four after been considered perennial underachievers in recent years. […]

Nigeria get jibes for their often lack of history failing to match their pedigree as Africa's best among top women footballing nations in the World since the inception of the competition. A story they will hope to rewrite at this edition. The emergence of a youthful, energetic, block-blustering Oshoala, even at age 20, may perhaps deepen their run this time.

The Falcons’ ability to hold their Swedish counterparts to a draw was elating but nonetheless surprising. The Falcons were the “underdogs,” according to Tony Manfred:

Nigeria is the last-ranked team in Group D at 33rd in the world. Their other three opponents in the Group of Death — the U.S. (2nd), Sweden (5th), and Australia (10th) — are all ranked in the top 10. Faced with the task of taking down some of the biggest teams and names in world soccer, it's hard to think of a better philosophy than, “I don't need to know your name.” …

Nigeria is good though. They aren't a compelling underdog because they try hard and overachieve, they're a compelling underdog because they think they're good enough to take down the best teams in the world, and they actually might be.

Naturally, Nigerian netizens have been speaking about the match.

Nkem Ifejika, a Twitter user, said:

They were praised:

Will Coker wrote:

Kolo Kenneth lauded the Falcons, although NEPA (the old name for the body responsible for public electricity) did not help:

More praise:

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