By Harry Awurumibe, ABUJA
With less than a day to the official draw of next year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup final in France, the Super Falcons of Nigeria is expected to be drawn in a tough group for the preliminary matches of the global football fiesta.
As it has been the tradition, the world football governing body, FIFA has put the 24 participating countries into four pots of six teams each with Nigeria dumped into Pot 4 which contains “inferior teams” or minors.
This is so because Nigeria is not within the top first 30 countries in the latest FIFA- Coca-Cola World Rankings released yesterday ahead of the Official Draw in France. Nigeria, in spite of winning the just concluded 11th Africa Women’s Cup of Nations (AWCON) trophy in Ghana lost one step in the new World Rankings by placing 39 in the log, down by one point from the last month.
Nigeria’s loss means she ranked only above two other African representatives, Cameroon (46) and South Africa (48). Both moved up by 3 and 2 points respectively following their impressive display in AWCON final in Ghana.
In the same vein, Nigeria’s poor performance and the defeat by South Africa’s Banyana Banyana meant that the newly crowned African Champions would drop from the previous height in the World Rankings.
For this reason, Nigeria will be drawn with one of these tough countries in Pot 1 like France, USA, Germany, Canada and Australia. She will also get one team from Pot 2 such as Japan, Brazil, Spain, Norway and Holland.
Finally, Nigeria will be pitched with a country like South4. Korea, China, New Zealand, Italy and Scotland. Only Thailand (29) is ranked higher than teams in Pot 4 which also has countries like Argentina (36), Chile (38), Nigeria, Cameroon, South Africa and Jamaica (53).
With the benefit of hindsight, it is expected that Nigeria will get tough opponents like USA, Japan and Italy or Germany, Brazil and China. But may end up in the same group with Canada, Sweden and South Korea.
In fact, there is no way Nigeria will have an easy draws as all the tough teams are in Pots 1 to 3 hence it must face a team each from CONCACAF, Asia, COMOBOL and Europe.
In all, 24 teams will be divided into six Groups of four teams each to play 52 matches in different parts of host country, France.
Mr Awurumibe, Women’s Football Expert lives in Abuja.