Super Falcons defender, Onome Ebi is among the ‘history makers’ at the on-going France 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
The Super Falcons went down 0-3 to Norway in their opening Group A match on Saturday. However, Ebi made history as the first African player to appear at five World Cups.
At the Stade Auguste Delaune, 36-year old Ebi walked into the record books. She became the first African player, man or woman, to appear at five World Cups.
And despite losing 0-3 to the Scandinavians on a day so much was expected from the Falcons, Ebi feels proud. Especially in accomplishing an incredible feat of consistency, resilience and longevity.
“Playing in my fifth World Cup is really, really amazing, and I worked hard for it,” she told FIFA.com. “I thank God it has come to pass. I would say I’m enjoying it – just not today’s game.”
Onome Ebi’s long association with the FIFA Women’s World Cup started at USA 2003. The then 20-year-old was part of a squad-led by coach Sam Okpodu. That squad had the likes of Mercy Akide, Perpetua Nkwocha, Precious Dede and Florence Omagbemi.
While she played less than 15 minutes in the tournament, Ebi demonstrated enough talent to pave the way for her to become a mainstay of the Nigerian defence through 2007 in China, 2011 in Germany and 2015 in Canada.
However, the road to France did not run smooth. In 2016, Ebi picked up a severe hand injury in the final of the African Women’s Championships in Cameroun; with Florence Omagbemi as head coach of the team. The subsequent surgery and rehabilitation tested her resolve.
“My journey wasn’t easy,” she stated. “The setbacks, the injury, negative words against me. But I didn’t give up. I kept working hard and I kept being positive in everything that I do. I pushed myself to come back and now I think I am even better than I was before.”
Experience and adversity provides plenty of perspective; and Ebi is utilising those years of accumulated wisdom ahead of a vital game against Korea Republic tomorrow.
“I didn’t expect what happened [against Norway] but it’s football; you lose some and you win some.”
“We didn’t get the goals; so we are going to learn from what happened; and work on those lessons for the second game.”
The Super Falcons enter the encounter with Korea Republic knowing their World Cup hopes are on the line. A victory would leave knockout phase qualification in their hands. Ebi is acutely aware of the “do or die” nature of the clash and believes Nigeria can rise to the challenge.
“We don’t have anything to leave behind in the Korea game, We are going all out because the loss in our first game was a very big one. We will go all out – for nothing but victory.”
Brazil’s Formiga in seventh heaven, sets World Cup records.
Experienced Brazil midfielder Formiga made World Cup history when she lined up for her seventh World Cup at the weekend against Jamaica. She is the oldest ever player to feature in the World Cup.
The 41-year-old midfielder plays her club football for Paris Saint-Germain and came out of her international retirement, announced in 2016, to give herself a chance of being involved in this summer’s tournament and one final shot at lifting the coveted trophy.
Formiga initially only planned to help her country reach the World Cup finals, telling FIFA.com in November 2018: “I had no intention to carry on and play in the World Cup, but breaking barriers spurs me on.”
Now Formiga has taken Rampone’s record as the competition’s oldest ever player (male and female), and her sights are set on helping Brazil to become the fifth nation to win the competition.
In the men’s game, the record for the most World Cup selections is jointly held by German great, Lothar Matthaus and the Mexican pair of Antonio Carbajal and Rafael Marquez, who each played in five tournaments.
In the Women’s World Cup, Japanese midfielder Homare Sawa played in six tournaments for her country. She made 205 appearances across a 12-year international career – in which she lifted the World Cup in 2011.
Formiga’s first World Cup came in 1995 and the closest she has come to being a champion was in 2007 when Brazil lost to Germany in the final.
Brazil’s Cristiane makes World Cup history in win over Jamaica
The Brazilian striker scored the first hat-trick of the Women’s World Cup. She became the oldest player in the tournament’s history to hit a treble as Brazil beat debutants Jamaica 3-0 in Group C.
The 34-year-old Cristiane, replacing injured six-time FIFA World Player of the Year, Marta, netted in the 15th, 50th and 64th minute in front of a 17,000 crowd at the Stade des Alpes in Grenoble.
She beat the record held by Cristiano Ronaldo. Ronaldo was 33 years and 130 days old when he scored a hat-trick in Portugal’s 3-3 draw with Spain at Russia 2018.
Marta may be available for Thursday’s game against Australia in Montpellier.
Italy end 20-year wait with shock win
Having last appeared at a Women’s World Cup 20 years ago, Italy made a memorable return as Juventus star Barbara Bonansea scored twice, including a dramatic stoppage time winner, to give the Azzurre a shock 2-1 win over much fancied Australia.
Banyana Banyana’s Kgatlana in historic goal
Banyana Banyana opened their FIFA Women’s World Cup campaign with a loss to Spain at the Stade Océane in France on Saturday; but the team made history on its first-ever World Cup appearance.