Nigerians are everywhere.
This is a very popular saying citizens from the West African nation take great pride in sharing, whether publicly by word of mouth or on social media in the modern era of technology.
The same is true at the 2022 TotalEnergies Women’s Africa Cup of Nations in Morocco, where dozens of Nigerian fans have been making their way to Rabat to cheer on and support the defending African champions.
Singing, dancing and drumming for the full 90 minutes has now become their routine on matchdays. They come in more than an hour before the game, to organize their drums and select the side of the stand that is directly opposite the team bench.
Donning white and green shirts and replicas of the Nigerian flag is part of their identity – one that they take very seriously. Fully equipped, they start their match day pattern, that also includes vuvuzelas.
They start by chanting “Nigeria. Nigeria. Nigeria.” This changes to “inside the net” if they get an attacking set piece or when the Super Falcons mount an attack on goal.
When it is the opponents who have a scoring chance in a dangerous position, they quickly chant “over the bar, over the bar” and on it goes, as they enjoy their time in the stands.
“This means so much to me as a Nigerian to come here and support the Super Falcons. I always watch them on television, so when I heard that they will be coming to Morocco to play at the WAFCON, I was super excited. I told my friends that we must come and support them,” said the excited Ahmad Saddauna Alli, a PhD candidate of Arabic and Islamic Studiesat the Dar El Hadith El Hassania in Rabat.
“It is the first time I have an opportunity to support my country like this. This signifies the unity that we have. It is amazing.”
“There is so many of us here and for us seeing the Super Falcons and the way they are playing makes us super proud. The performance gives me more joy than when I watch on TV,” Alli continues, while moving his body from side to side on the edge of his seat as he keeps an eye on the action on the pitch, delighting in Nigeria leading 4-0 against Burundi.
For Alli and the other Nigerian fans, after a shaky start things are looking good for the defending champions, who are eyeing a record 10th African crown.
This hope in the team is what has given the fans even more confidence to make sacrifices to to do their part to give encouragement to the team.
Abasiri Chiamaka, an Agronomy student in Meknes – north central of Morocco, travelled for two hours to the country’s administrative capital to come and experience first-hand what it feels like to support the Super Falcons against Burundi.
“I am so excited to be here. Seeing the Super Falcons playing and winning is fulfilling. We are Nigeria. We are proud of our team. They play good football and because of this, we are here to support them,” Chiamaka says joyfully.
Another student, 22-year old Mufida Gambo Muazza, who is studying Business Management at the Private International Institute for Management and Technology, said that it was an honour to be at the Moulay Hassan Stadium in joining other Nigerians to support the Super Falcons.
“We know that the target is to defend our title and for us as fans, the plan is to be here and show our support to the players and coaching staff. They are really making us proud,” Muazza told CAF Online exclusively.
She says this while high-fiving her friend nearby as the final whistle is blown and Nigeria emerge 4-0 winners against debutants Burundi in the last Group C game at the Moulay Hassan Stadium in Rabat.
As the Nigerian fans pack their belongings to leave the stadium, it is all smiles, handshakes and hugs and general contentment that their efforts are worthwhile.
To make it an even better feeling, they get a solid recognition from the players and coaching staff, who raise their arms and clap for them as they walk off the pitch and acknowledge their support immensely.
Nigeria finished second in Group C with six points, scoring seven goals – the most scored by a team in the group stages – and conceding only the two goals they let in against South Africa in their opening game.
As has so often been the case at so many previous WAFCONS, the Super Falcons are getting stronger and starting to flex their muscles – knowing that their loyal and passionate green and white fans are right behind them.