The Super Falcons have withdrawn from a 12-nation tournament which kicks off in Turkey this week, due to inability to obtain visas.
The reigning African women champions were grouped in Group B alonside France, Kosovo and Kazakhstan in the tournament which kicks off on February 26 to March 7.
“It was impossible for the team to sort visas and make it to the tournament in Turkey, so they had to pull out.They only just finished playing the Wafu Cup on Saturday and had a short time-frame to sort out visas and other important logistics for the trip to Turkey. Importantly, attention and preparations will shift towards the big friendly against France in April” Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) spokesman Ademola Olajire told BBC Sport.
The development is a huge setback for the country and newly appointed coach, Swede Thomas Dennerby. Before his arrival, the Super Falcons had not played or trained since lifting the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations for an eighth time in 2016, when Dennerby’s predecessor Florence Omagbemi became the first woman to win the competition as both player and coach.
The team will now travel to Europe to play France in a friendly in April, after which the focus will be on securing a qualifying spot at the 2018 Africa Women Cup of Nations in Ghana. This year’s Women’s Nations Cup takes on extra significance as it will also decide the continent’s teams for the 2019 Women’s World Cup.