Desire Oparanozie was recently named the captain of Nigeria’s Super Falcons and had her first competitive game in the 3-0 loss to Norway at the Women World Cup in France. She says it is a responsibility she is not scared to handle.
The team have had some great captains from 1991 till present day- Nkiru Okosieme, Florence Omagbemi, Yinka Kudaisi, Maureen Mmadu, the greatest of them all, arguably Florence who led the team to its best ever World Cup showing- quarterfinals in 1999.
Oparanozie has told NigerianFootballer.com that the responsibility of being the Super Falcons captain is not too big for her.
“It is a responsibility I can handle. So far it is good to lead these girls and I will do it to the best of my abilities. I have been leading the team in the best possible way I can and it has been good so far.”
Certainly, no captain leads a divided team and what Desire has going for here is the fact that the girls are together in their bid to do well for themselves and the country.
“It has been good. the girls have been very cooperative and responsive. We are focused on the task ahead. We have been working together ever since we came to camp.
“I know the team has had lots of great captains before me but I am not under pressure to be like them. So far it has been good handling the team. The players have been very cooperative and everybody responds in a positive way. There is no pressure at all.”
Eyes on the class of 99
Every time the Super Falcons go out to play in the World Cup, the class of 99 comes into play. That team had the likes of Ann Chiejine in goal, Florence Omagbemi and Yinka Kudaisi in defence, Nkiru Okosieme and Maureen Mmadu in midfield and an attack led by Mercy Akide, Patience Avre and Ifeanyi Chiejine.
That team got to the quarterfinals and in spite of a red card shown to Patience Avre in that game, they took Brazil all the way into extra time before losing 4-3. No Super Falcons team have gone that far ever since.
Oparanozie believes this is the team.
“There is a promise from us and there is a target,” She told NigerianFootballer.com.
“You cannot come into a tournament like this without a target. We as a team have the objective to go past our best previous record which is going past the group stage and I know as soon as we achieve it we will be happy as individuals and the country will be happy with us too. We have a goal. We have an objective and this is it.”
Desire Oparanozie was only six years old when the Class of 99 got to the quarterfinals of the World Cup. She probably didn’t see the games then, but working with Florence Omagbemi at the Africa Cup of Nations in 2016 surely gave her a bit of lesson on how to captain a record-breaking Women National Team.
“She had a very big influence on me, she was a veteran and I learned quite a lot from her. She was a coach and leader. The things I learned from her have helped me in times like this.
“Ahead of this World Cup, we have one of the best preparations. We are ready. We have been ready long before now.
“We prepared well and moments like these are what we have trained for, played for and prepared for. We will give it our best.”
Nigeria lost her opening game to Norway and will be up against Korea in a very crucial game that the Falcons must not lose in order to have any chance of playing in the next stage of the World Cup.