Football: Mixed feelings as African teams head home
There were mixed feelings for African sides Nigeria and Equatorial Guinea as they headed home early from the the Women's World Cup after the group stages.
Continental champions Nigeria, failed to match their sole appearance in the 1999 quarter-finals, and left bitterly disappointed but Equatorial Guinea were bouyant after their tournament debut.
The tiny African nation, who had been embroiled in a row over the gender of some of their players beforehand, held Brazil in the first half before falling 3-0 in Wednesday's final game, after losing 3-2 to Australia and 1-0 to Norway.
"This is an absolutely top-quality tournament. I think the World Cup has been very valuable for my players, and for their future careers," said Equatorial Guinea coach Marcello Frigerio.
"Let's remember that Equatorial Guinea is a very small country, and we were at a World Cup for the first time. A dream has come true. The players will go home with their heads held high, and the people will definitely be satisfied."
Their flamboyant star Anonman, who is set to join German Bundesliga side Turbine Potsdam next season, stood out not only for her dynamic style of play but her exotic hairstyles.
"Her outstanding qualities are there for everyone to see. She's talented, ambitious, and very, very good. Anonman is the Marta (star of the Brazilian team) of Equatorial Guinea.
"She's scored two goals at this tournament and has lived up to her billing," said Frigerio.
"If Equatorial Guinea learns its lessons and adapts its preparations accordingly, the nation has a chance of being part of this again four years from now," he added.
But there was more disappointment for eight-time African champions Nigeria who finished with three points after beating Canada 1-0 in their final game.
"Obviously, we were hoping to qualify for the quarter-finals," said midfielder Stella Mbachu.
"I'm sad we've not made it and that I have to go home now. That wasn't my plan, and it wasn't the team's plan either.
"We came here intending to qualify for the next round, but that's football. You don't always get what you want."
Goalscorer Perpetua Nkwocha said it was her last World Cup.
"I know I won't be part of the team for the next World Cup, but I'm not hanging up my boots just yet, even though this was my last World Cup.
"I hope we qualify for the Olympic Football Tournament, because if we do, I'll play at that tournament. I want to take part in the Games, but I'm considering ending my career after the Olympics."
© 2011 AFP