|Nigeria's Pepertua Nkwocha against|
Guinea's Bilguisa Simpore in 2006
But in 2006, this tiny oil rich nation in Central Africa decided to take women football by the scruff of its neck and at the Africa Women Championships in 2006 hosted by Nigeria, they paraded three naturalised Nigerians as well as two others many though were more male than female.
As a journalist based in Lagos then and working for Goal! Newspapers, I covered that tournament and saw how the Guineans gave the Nigerian team a scare equalising in the 29th minute of the opening match after going two goals down.
That team had Ngozi Dialla, Amarachi Nnaji and Chinansa Okoro, girls who were Nigerians less than one year earlier so people wondered how easy it was to change nationality in Africa.
Then they were accused of fielding two boys in that team, one of them being Simpore Bilguisa.
I remember chatting with some Falcons players at their hotel after that difficult opening game in 2006 and one of them said, during a corner kick, she put her hand “down there” to be sure she was playing against fellow girls and she swore she felt something hard and she immediately raised and alarm to the rest of the team.
I also spoke to one of the coaches of the team and she said, they complained to CAF before the game and wanted a physical check on the players in question but the CAF pleaded that it be done after the game since it may demoralise the players in question.
“After the game, since we won we did not push our case anymore,” the coach said to me.
All these are document in old issues of Goal! Newspaper.
In fact below is a reprint of that story I did on GOAL! In 2006 which I have recopied below.
Nigeria silent on Guinea boy player
The Nigeria Football Association has been silent so far on the issue of the Equatorial Guinean player suspected to have been a boy.
The player, Simpore Bilguisa who played in defence against the Super Falcons in the opening match was suspected to be a boy and an official of the Falcons told GOAL! on the condition of anonymity that the FA actually made a verbal protest.
“I noticed the player and talked to the CAF officials for a body check but they said the players may be demoralized if we do that so close to a game, but after we won the match we felt there would be no need for the written protest,”
When told that the Falcons players on the pitch did an informal body check on the player, the official told GOAL! that they were not informed since that would have been grounds to formalize their protest with CAF.
NFA board member, Bola Jegede told GOAL! that she was not aware of any such incident where a boy played against the Falcons for Equatorial Guinea while Emma Ayabumi of the Women Football department also claimed ignorance.
“Is it not outrageous that a boy played against us? I do not know about it and maybe if I have been briefed I would have known what to do with the Confederation (CAF),” Ayabunmi said.
The Guineans having successfully played in an African Championship without “incidents” they naturalised more players and their “boys” continued with the team helping them break the dominance of Nigeria by winning the 2008 edition.
They have already qualified for the final of the 2010 edition and will play against Nigeria but there have been questions raised about the eligibility of a couple of players on their team.
http://www.mtnfootball.com/ reports that after an earlier protest from Cameroon that they were fielding ineligible players, something CAF dismissed “until a full investigation could be launched”, Ghana have now stated that the Guinea side includes men!
Two Black Queens players, Diana Ankomah and captain Florence Okoe, claim Equatorial Guinea used three men during their final Group B game on Monday which Ghana lost 3-1 to exit the competition.
Cameroon has filed an official complaint against Equatorial Guinea for similar gender claims.
|Guinea's Salimata Simpore celebrates a goal in 2010 AWC|
Salimata Simpore, Bilguisa Simpore and team captain Genoveva Ayonmang were in 2008 suspected to be boys.
Black Queens' team captain Florence Okoe said no one can make her yield in her belief that Salimata Simpore was "a boy playing in a girls game”.
Ankomah re-echoed the claim that at least two of Equatorial Guinea's players were not girls.
"To lose a football game is not something we don't know how to take, that is now normal for us as footballers,” Diana Ankomah told NAN.
"But losing to unequal opposition like in this case of Equatorial Guinea is painful. You only need to have physical contact with them to know this, and we can tell from what happened most times during the match," she said.
I checked the website run by the Confederation of African Football, CAF and they said nothing about eligibility to play in the tournament except owning a passport.
Qualification of Players
Each National Association shall select its national representative team from players
enjoying the citizenship of its country and qualified for selection in conformity with
the provisions of article 15 of the regulations governing the application of the FIFA
statutes. All players must present, on request to the Secretariat of CAF and/or to the
commissioner of the match, their valid passport with picture.
30.1. For each match, players must present their valid passport.
30.2. If a travelling team loses the passports of one or many of its player(s), the
team can use the concerned player(s) provided that they take photographs with the
match referee or commissioner, before the match. These photographs shall be sent to
CAF Secretariat by the referee, together with his report. In case of a protest duly
lodged, the concerned team shall present to the Secretariat of CAF the valid passports
for comparison with the photographs taken before the match by the referee or the
30.3. A host team is not allowed to field any player if before the match she does not
present her valid passport.
Incidentally as reported on www.kickoff.com, the South Africans are gearing up to protest to CAF concerning the issue.
...The eligibility of a number of the Equatorial Guinea players has been called into question, most notably Cote d'Ivoire-born striker Salimata Simpore who, it is claimed, even played for the Ivorians in the qualifiers!
But it is not just Simpore who is a controversial member of the side. women from Brazil, Cameroon, the Ivory Coast, Nigeria and Senegal, all fast-tracked as Equatorial Guinea citizens...
The final on Sunday between Nigeria and Equatorial Guinea will surely open up accusations and counter accusations on the gender of those players from Equatorial Guinea who also have Brazilian, Ivorian and Cameroonian players in their team.