Okobi mulls quitting Super Falcons after World Cup exclusion

Okobi mulls quiting Super Falcons after World Cup exclusion

After being left out of the team for the 2023 Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, Super Falcons midfielder Ngozi Okobi says she is still unsure about playing for the team once more. She also claims that as a result of the omission, she nearly gave up playing football.

The 29-year-old opened up about her disappointment at missing the tournament during an X (Twitter) space interview with writer Osasu Obayiuwana on Thursday.

Okobi’s sudden removal from Randy Waldrum’s squad provoked outrage among the country’s football fans prior to the start of the World Cup, and while expressing respect for her colleagues’ performance at the showcase, she is still unsure about representing her country again.

I can’t say right now, when I’m ready to talk about that, I would do but not now,” Okobi said.

“From the beginning of the whole situation when I was left out, I felt really bad. I wasn’t happy with myself and it almost made me take drastic decisions like trying to quit football because I felt if I couldn’t make a 23-player list, I wasn’t good enough to be called a footballer,” she added.

The Levante midfielder said she got the news of her omission on social media.

“No one told me anything, that day I went for training and on my way back after the season in May, I left Spain and went to Sweden to get good training. I thought I had a bigger task ahead of me, which was the World Cup, so I went to Sweden so I could train with my former team,” the player said.

“Randy also sent out a programme on the group we had then, so, I tried to follow it but all of a sudden, one of the practices, when I was coming back home, I started receiving notifications and tags from social media. When I checked, the first thing I saw ‘why is Okobi not on the list?’ Then I realised it had happened. So, I saw the list and my name was omitted. I just turned off my phone and cried a lot.

“But life goes on, I went back home to my husband, stood strong and found happiness within my family. I did all I could to support the team, it was not easy to do but I had to because it’s a team I always wanted the best for and I was so happy watching them get the best out of themselves.”

The 2023 Women’s World Cup is the biggest ever and each Falcons player will get $60,000 for reaching the round of 16, but Okobi also said she is not moved by the financial reward.

“Football is not about money for me. When I heard about the money like a month before our list was released, the first thing that came to my mind was that it’s an opportunity for most of the old players who are retiring from the team because we’ve never collected such an amount of money in the history of the Falcons.

“It’s sad I was not part of the group, but whatever has been lost now can be achieved in the future,” she said.

The Falcons took the Women’s World Cup by surprise, qualifying from the group stage at the expense of Olympic champions Canada and also defeated co-hosts Australia 3-2, before bowing out to England in the round of 16 after losing 4-2 on penalties.

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