The Nigeria’s U-20 Women’s team, Falconets have been reported stranded at the Istanbul airport, Turkey in an efforts to return home after crashing out from Federation International Football Association (FIFA) U-20 Women’s World Cup
Penpushing reports that, the female footballers were said to be facing a torturous journey back to their country from Costa Rica, and were found sleeping on airport benches and on the floor of the biting cold airport.
The female national team had to depart Costa Rica almost immediately after their elimination at about 6.30 am Monday, but became subject of ridicule, as the plans to return home within 24 hours, turned out herculean task 48 hours after
Penpushing further reports that a former Super Eagles media officer and committee member with the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), Colin Udoh said the Falconets have been going through hell in their bid to represent their fatherland, despite their valiant performance on the pitch.
The former media aide on a twitter showed on Tuesday morning how the Nigerian players were stranded in Turkey, while still thousands miles away to their country, Nigeria as at the time of the report.
Penpushing also reports that, Udoh was quoted saying that the sour experience was just the latest in a litany of troubles the team has faced while competing at the tournament, just as another source said the players have been on a trip to Nigeria since Monday, adding that they were still awaiting a 6pm flight
“We’ve been on a trip to Nigeria since 6:30 am Monday. We are currently sleeping at the Istanbul Airport awaiting a 6 pm Wednesday flight, Istanbul time to Abuja. The tickets were booked for Tuesday evening on Avianca. But the Colombian flag carrier re-booked the team on Turkish Air, leading to a four-hour delay in Colombia. That, coupled with a stop in Panama, meant the team missed their Tuesday connection flight’
“NFF’s Leader of Delegation Ruth David tried in vain to ask the airline for accommodation, but without transit visas, the pleas accomplished nothing and that forced the team to spend 24 hours at the airport awaiting their connecting flight to Abuja”, the source added
Penpushing reports that, the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) in reaction to the ugly development explained that several factors, including the inability to secure transit visas for players and officials of the footballers, at the Istanbul Airport, led to the team having to stay 24 hours at the airport in Turkey on their way back home.
The General Secretary of the Federation, Mohammed Sanusi said the football ruling body in the country did not book the team’s tickets from Costa Rica, adding that it was the Federation International Football Association (FIFA) that did that
‘The NFF did not book the team’s tickets from Costa Rica; FIFA did. FIFA also did not envisage the hitches that saw the team delayed for more than three hours in Bogota, and another one hour in Panama. By the time the team got to Istanbul, the flight to Abuja had left’, he emphasised.
“Our officials pleaded for compassionate transit visas so as to take the players and officials to a hotel inside the town, but this was not possible as they were informed that Nigeria had been removed from the list of countries whose citizens were issued visa-on-arrival in Turkey’.
‘The airline then took the team to a sleeping area at the airport and gave them tickets to have meals every five hours. This situation has nothing to do with NFF, who had made arrangements to receive the team in Abuja before the complications in travel arrangements’ Sanusi, explained.
‘The NFF had pleaded with FIFA to intervene with the German Embassy to issue the team transit visas before their departure from Nigeria, in order for the team to be able to travel through Germany. This did not happen’.
“The players were handed three sets of green jerseys and two sets of white jerseys, several house-wear types and training jerseys. The players opted to wash only their jersey top (no other stuff) because when the first set of body-wear was sent to the laundry people at the hotel, it returned with some FIFA and NFF badges at the front and names at the back peeled by the machine.”
Penpushing further reports that, it is recalled that, after showing much promise winning all three group games against France, South Korea and Canada, the Falconets fell short in the quarter-final as they lost 2-0 to the Netherlands in a match that ended early Monday morning.
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