Remembering 1998 all-conquering Super Falcons 

Super Falcons captain Florence Omagbemi hoists the trophy in 1988

When Nigeria hosted the maiden African Women’s Championship (now Women’s Africa Cup of Nations) 22 years ago, the Super Falcons, took the title in an unbeaten run of five matches scoring a remarkable 28 goals without conceding.

“My period with the Super Falcons always bring back mixed memories and I’m happy about all that the team achieved under my tenure,” Ismaila Mabo, who guided the Super Falcons to many conquests including reaching the quarter finals of the FIFA Women’s World Cup USA 1999, told CAFOnline.com.   

“Apart from winning the first edition of the continental women’s championship, there were other things that we couldn’t achieve especially at the FIFA World Cup and Olympic Games.”

My period with the Super Falcons always bring back mixed memories and I’m happy about all that the team achieved under my tenure. Apart from winning the first edition of the continental women’s championship, there were other things that we couldn’t achieve especially at the FIFA World Cup and Olympic Games Ismaila Mabo

But the Falcons were truly on top of their game in 1998 and they started their campaign with a stunning 8-0 win against Morocco at in Kaduna.

Led by the then 23-year-old Florence Omagbemi, the Falcons were pure class and they subsequently decimated DR Congo (4-0) and Egypt (6-0) to finish on top of their group with the maximum points.

They hit Cameroon for six without in the semi-final and defeated the Black Queens of Ghana 2-0 in the final with goals in either half by Nkiru Okosieme and Stella Mbachu.

“It was a very huge victory for us and personally for me because the African Women’s Championship was my first trophy with the Super Falcons,” recalled former Super Falcons’ midfielder Maureen Mmadu.

“I was so happy and couldn’t believe it that we’d won the title. My only regret was that I lost my mum during that period but I was not told until I got home after the championship.

“But it’s always a great feeling for me and my teammates to have won that first edition of the African Women’s Championship because it was the beginning of many more successes for the Super Falcons,” added Mmadu, who is the first Nigerian women player to earn 100 caps in her heydays.

But over two decades now, the Falcons have gone places and CAFOnline.com now traces the Super Falcons class of 1998;

"I was so happy and couldn’t believe it that we’d won the title. My only regret was that I lost my mum during that period but I was not told until I got home after the championship," Maureen Mmadu

Goalkeepers

Ann Agumanu-Chiejine (Flying Babes)

She was first choice for many years. Now into coaching, she guided the Lagos team to win the women's soccer gold at the country’s National Sports Festival in 2012. She also served as an assistant coach to Florence Omagbemi when the Falcons won the title in 2016 in Cameroon. Currently, she is the head coach of Nigeria Women’s Premier League club, Abia Angels.

Judith Chime (Rivers Angels)

Popularly called 'Kamala' because of her huge size, the towering goalkeeper was second choice to Ann Agumanu-Chiejine for many years. She was also in the 2000 winning squad. She is currently a football college coach in USA.

Defenders

Yinka Kudaisi (Rivers Angels)

The energetic defender was snapped up from Rivers Angel by Kakanfo Queens, after her impressive showing in the 1998 Women’s AFCON. She was also part of Falcons’ continental winning squads of 2004 and 2006, before bowing out of international football. She is currently not involved in football.

Adanna Nwaneri (Ufouma Babes)

Played in the central defensive position at the tournament, and was also in the victorious squads of 2000 and 2002 before her retiring. A participant at the FIFA women’s World Cup USA 2019, she stayed with Ufuoma Babes of Warri till 2004 when she disengaged from active football. Later she studied coaching at the country’s National Institute of Sports (NIS) and is currently attached to Heartland Queens.

Eberechi Opara (Pelican Stars)

One of the most reliable defenders in the squad, who cemented her position all through her sojourn with the team. Also featured at the 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup in USA, as well as the 2000 Women’s AFCON in South Africa. Afterwards, she went on scholarship to the USA where she is now resident.

Florence Kikelomo Ajayi (Pelican Stars)

Hardworking defender who had a glorious reign with the Super Falcons right from 1998 and subsequently featured in seven successive editions between 2002 and 2012. She also played at the 1999 and 2003 editions of the FIFA Women’s World Cup, both in USA. Upon her retirement, she returned to her job as an officer in the Nigeria Police Force.

Prisca Emeafu (Pelican Stars)

Apart from the 1998 continental conquest, she also represented the country at the 195 and 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup. Always with a smile but her football career was cut short following a freaky injury she sustained off the field when she cut her right leg tendon while running for safety when robbers reportedly broke into the Super Falcons camp. Despite corrective surgeries, she was unable to continue with her football career. She is currently living in the United Kingdom.

Mavis Ogun (Ufouma Babes)

Central defender who played pivotal role in ensuring Super Falcons’ victory on the home turf in 1998 as well as the 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup in USA. She left Ufuoma Babes for the USA and played in the College League for years. She is currently a women’s football college coach.

Coach Mabo with Super Falcons in 1988

Midfielders

Stella Mbachu (Pelican Stars)

Apart from being part of the winning team of 1998, Mbachu was for many years a fulcrum in the Super Falcons and part of the many successes recorded by the team until her retirement in 2014. She is now on the coaching staff of Nigeria Women’s Premier League club, Heartland Queens.

Gloria Usieta (Ufouma Babes)

Influential midfielder in the 1998 winning team, who also played stirring role at the 1999 FIFA Women's World Cup. She was also in the side that won in 2000 but left for the United States after being omitted from the 2002 side. She has since settled with her family in USA.

Martha Tarhemba (Pelican Stars)

Versatile midfielder who offered many options for the Super Falcons. She was a constant face in the team’s line up from 1998 till 2000, when she quit international football. Played for many years for Pelican Stars of Calabar before calling it a day. She has since relocated to USA.

Nkiru Okosieme (Rivers Angels)

She was aptly nicknamed 'headmistress' due to her knack for scoring goals with the head. She served the Super Falcons for a long time and represented Nigeria across four FIFA Women's World Cups (1991, 1995, 1999 and 2003). She won the Africa Women Cup of Nations with the "Super Falcons on three occasions in 1998, 2000, 2002 and also had successful spell playing in the US Women's soccer league before her retirement. She is currently based in USA.

Maureen Mmadu (Pelican Stars)

Had a long playing career at club and international levels and won four African Women's Championship - 1998 ,2000,2002 and 2006. She was the first African woman to earn 100 caps among other milestones including being at four FIFA Women's World Cup and two Olympic Football Tournaments at Sydney 2000 and Athens 2004 . She retired to coaching and was an assistant when the Super Falcons won their record ninth continental title in 2018. She spends her time living between Nigeria and Norway.

Rita Nwadike (Rivers Angels )

Another long serving player from the Super Falcons class of 1990s. Apart from winning the 1998 Women’s AFCON, the midfielder scored Nigeria's first ever FIFA Women's World Cup goal in a 3-3 draw with Canada at the 1995 edition in Sweden. She retired to coaching and currently attached with Nigeria Women's Premier League side, Rivers Angels of Port-Harcourt.

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Forwards

Nkechi Egbe (Ufuoma Babes)

Fine striker and was among the goals for the Super Falcons in 1998 en route to the 1999 FIFA Women's World Cup where she scored the team’s equalising third goal against Brazil in the quarter final before losing 4-3 via the goal golden goal. She was in 2000 wining squad before taking a bow from the national team. She retired from active football two years ago.

Mercy Akide-Udoh ( Pelican Stars)

The first recipient of the African Women’s Player of the Year in 2001, ‘Marvellous Mercy’ as she was so called by admirers, scored many important goals throughout her successful career with the Super Falcons. She won the Women’s AFCON three times including 1998,20002 and 20004. She's actively involved with the game as women's football coach at college level in USA.

Florence Omagbemi (Pelican Stars)

She captained the team to glory on home soil in 1998 and led the team to so many victories in a storied career that spanned over a decade. Regarded as a first among equals, Florence made history in 2016 as the first woman to win the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations both as a player and coach. Resident in the USA, Omagbemi is still actively involved with the game as a coach and consultant.

Patience Avre (Worldwide Angels )

Now resident in Chicago and working as a nurse, the gifted winger had a successful long period with the Super Falcons starting with the 1998 Women’s AFCON and was also in the winning team of 2000, 2004 and 2006 before she bowed out of international football.

Head Coach

Ismaila Mabo

Now 75, and enjoying his life in retirement in Jos- in North –Eastern Nigeria- where he’s a folk hero. He was in charge of the Super Falcons for many years and still holds the singular honour as the only coach to have led the Nigeria women’s to the quarter-finals of both the FIFA Women’s World Cup ( USA 1999) and Women’s Olympic Football Tournament (Athens 2004)