Unpaid Nigeria’s Super Falcons withhold Nations Cup trophy in protest.

The Nigeria national women’s football team, the Super Falcons, are still holding on to the Africa Women’s Nations Cup won last weekend in Cameroon in protest against the government’s failure to pay them.

Though the Minister of Youth and Sports, Solomon Dalung, on Thursday reassured the African champions that they will receive all their entitlements, the team has not relinquished the trophy.

The minister, who was in the company of the NFF’s General Secretary, Mohammed Sanusi, met with the players and officials at their Agura Hotel, Abuja, on Thursday.

“I had to make time out to meet with you ladies again after receiving you on arrival in Lagos. In the past few days I have heard so much about the team’s grievances, challenges and issues here and there,” he said.

“I have also discussed with the leadership of the Nigeria Football Federation but I felt it is necessary for me to come and sit to discuss with you in order for us to understand ourselves better. The issues with the team date back to the All-Africa Games, bothering on allowances and bonuses. We are also aware that the coaches are also being owed.

“The point I want to make clear is that for this competition which this team have participated in and won, we are indeed overwhelmed by the performance of the team,” he stated in a press statement issued by the NFF’s Ademola Olajire.

The minister urged the players and officials to be patient with the government so that their laudable achievement can be appreciated.

“Personally, I don’t want this achievement to be rubbished with whatever challenges we are facing because one thing that will stand to the end is our achievements,” he said.

Mr. Dalung concluded by promising the Falcons that the process to sort out their money was in process, and would be sorted out eventually.

“But one thing I want you all to know is that there are procedures for getting such monies from the Federal Government. It is not like an ATM that you will just go to and bring out cash. Government has processes on how things are done. We are still processing and pursuing the entitlements of the team.

As it stands, the Falcons say only blank alerts can appease them.

Dalung: Nobody even knew Falcons would win AWCON

Solomon Dalung, minister of sports, says the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) would have applied to the sports ministry for funds early enough if anyone knew the Super Falcons would win the African Women Cup of Nations (AWCON), which ended in Cameroon at the weekend.

The Nigerian women defeated hosts Cameroon on Sunday to win the tournament for a record eighth out of 10, but they have yet to receive their allowances.

They have consequently refused to vacate their hotel premises in Abuja, and have vowed never to release the trophy to the federation until their bonuses are paid.

Asked on Thursday by state house correspondents to react to the embarrassing development, Dalung said the team’s victory was unexpected.

“It is unfortunate that we are celebrating victory of the Super Falcons amidst some bitter feelings among the players because of some administrative lapses that were not managed properly,” he said.

“If the situation was explained to these girls, I don’t think it would have gotten to this level. But we are working round to clock to ensure that what belongs to them legitimately is given to them. This has to do with government process.

“One thing I always make clear is that the process of request for funds for sporting projects must come earlier to meet the objectives. Don’t forget that nobody even knew the team would emerge victorious; if we were confident they will emerge victorious, all the federation would have done is to plan for process of participation and entitlement.

“It is already established in sports tradition; when you win, this is what you are entitled to. The situation is highly unfortunate and I don’t like it. These girls have given confidence to women who want to embrace sports but this will go a long way in killing this laudable achievement. It is unfortunate but we will make sure the right thing is done.”

He admitted that the situation was really complex, because the team’s coaches were also being owed backlog of salaries.

“It is a complex situation but the entire governance of football deserves an urgent surgery. If that surgery is not done, we will always live with the embarrassment. I’m talking about the governance of football administration in Nigeria,” he said.

“The excuse of non-interference according to FIFA rule has been used to harass and intimidate government. But now that the government is being embarrassed by the activities, I don’t see anybody talking about interference.

“They use it to scandalise the government so the man who is at the receiving end has the responsibility to ensure that things must be done right so we must take steps to ensure that money meant for athletes get to them on time as and when due.”

Super Falcons stars celebrate 8th African title

The Super Falcons players have continued in their celebrations after they won a record eighth African title in Cameroon on Saturday.

The AWCON 2016 top scorer, Asisat Oshoala, Francesca Ordega as well as Courtney Dike have all expressed their delight following the lone goal victory against the Indomitable Lionesses on Saturday in Yaounde.

Desire Oparanozie’s solitary strike in the 84th minute was enough to help the Falcons to their eighth African title.

Oshoala who won the Golden Boot award having scored six goals stated that she is always focused on winning.

“All I do is win… win no matter what!!” the Arsenal Ladies star wrote on her Twitter handle.

On her part, Ordega gave praises to God for the triumph.

She wrote: “Congrats to me and my teammates…All I have to say is thank you God, I give you thanks and praise.”

Dike, who was not part of the squad to Cameroon, reserved special praise for four of the players.

“Congratulations to my teammates! AWCON champs once again! Super Falcons, Oshoala, Oparanozie, Ordega, Okobi,” Dike wrote on her handle.