Benin City and Abuja — The national women U-20 football team, the Falconets arrived Benin on Tuesday night after a 12-hour tortuous journey from Abuja to the Edo State capital by road ahead of Saturday's U-20 World Cup qualifier against Tanzania. The match will hold at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium. The journey was said to have taken so long because of the dilapidated state of the Abuja to Benin road.
But even with the fatigue occasioned by the journey, the Edo State Government yesterday challenged the Falconets to beat their opponents in Saturday's march.
Speaking through the Commissioner for Youth and Special Duties, Mika Amanokhai, Governor Godwin Obaseki while welcoming the players and officials, said they should see Edo as their state and go for total victory against the Tanzanians on Saturday.
"We are indeed elated to receive you and want to urge you to see yourselves a part of us. Please feel very comfortable and at home during your stay here.
"Benin is a slaughter ground for all Nigerian national teams and thus, we are challenging you to go all out to secure victory for Nigerians.
"On Saturday, we expect nothing but victory and we must be at our best to defeat our opponents," he stated.
In their response, the players assured that nothing would be left to chance to emerge victorious on Saturday.
Speaking through the team captain, Oluwakemi Famuditi, the players said the warm reception accorded them since their arrival is a moral booster that will spur them to victory.
"We want to assure you sir and the entire country that come Saturday, we will not disappoint. We will beat our opponent to secure qualification for France in 2018," she stated.
The second leg would take place in Dar es Salaam on Sept. 30 September, with the winner, on aggregate, to tackle the winner of the Morocco/Senegal clash in the second round in November.
Meanwhile, the Tanzanians are expected to arrive in Abuja today by 1.00 p.m. today aboard an Ethiopian Airline flight. They are to leave for the Benin on an Arik Airline flight shortly after arrival at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport.
Also expected in the country today are the match officials from the neighbouring Togo and the match commissioner from Liberia.
The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) Director of Communications, Ademola Olajire said yesterday at the federation's secretariat that arrangements have been put in place to ensure the safety of the visiting Tanzanian players and officials as well as the match officials.
Olajire said nine of the Tanzanian delegation is the officials, while the rest 20 would be the players.
"We have received message from the Tanzanian Football Federation of the team's arrival in Abuja tomorrow and we have subsequently arranged for their immediate airlift to Benin City where the match would be played on Saturday", Olajire said yesterday.
Nigerian has played in every edition of the FIFA U20 Women World Cup since it was launched as an U-19 tournament in Canada 15 years ago.
The team reached the quarterfinals in Thailand 2004, Russia 2006 and Chile 2008, before finishing as runners-up at the 2010 finals in Germany and at the 2014 finals in Canada.
The Falconets reached the semifinals in Japan in 2012, but failed to reach the knockout stage in Papua New Guinea in 2016.