UNDER-20 WOMEN’S WORLD CUP
Olawale Ajimotokan in Abuja
Former Technical Director of Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), James Peters, has declared as negative the tactics adopted by the Super Falconets at the on-going FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in France.
The Nigerians will confront Spain in one of the quarter-final matches to be played in Concarneau on Thursday.
But giving his assessment yesterday, Peters, said the team should put its act together, improve on its tactic rather than depend on luck.
“If we play like this without tactics- just keep hoping that if they score- we will score, then we will be out. We are not playing tactically. Rather, we are playing, ‘if God gives us victory, we will take it’. That is what we are playing –no tactics,” Peters said.
Nigeria progressed into the quarter-finals after grabbing a 1-1 draw with China on Monday with the equaliser coming in the last minute of the added time the efforts of Aishat Bello and Rasheedat Ajibade. China right-back, Jiaxing Dou deflected the ball into the net for an own goal.
While offering insights into the performance of the team which lost 1-0 to Germany and edged Haiti in the other group fixtures, Peters said it amounted to bad tactics on the part of the team to always wait until the last minute before scoring.
Peters advised the team to be more tactical against Spain and exhibit instinct to score goals instead of playing attacking football only when they are pegged back.
“Waiting until the last minute to equalize is a bad tactics. I expect them to be a bit tactical when we meet Spain. They should know what they are doing as a team. What are they doing up front when they lose the ball and how do they defend when the opponents take the ball? Are they doing pressing, or doing middle pressing and what are they going to do when they have the ball?” Peters asked.
He said the whole team handled by Christopher Danjuma, should adopt the pressing from the backline approach against the Spaniards and stay behind the ball when they lose possession and defend as a whole team.
Meanwhile, substitute Aishat Bello whose last-gasp effort earned Falconets the one-all draw that qualified Nigeria for the quarter final has admitted that she thought the campaign was all over for her and her colleagues.
With Nigeria trailing 1-0 deep into second-half stoppage time the 17-year-old got in behind the Chinese backline on the right flank before playing in a well-driven cross towards Ajibade to finish up.
But in the haste to clear it away, the ball bounced on China right-back, Jiaxing Dou, before resting in the net for the equaliser that broke the hearts of the Far Easterners!
“It was not easy. I was on the bench and I was thinking that maybe we had lost the game,” Bello told FIFA.com after Monday’s game at the Stade du Clos Gastel.
After the Falconets has booked their passage to face winner of Group C, Spain, on Thursday, Bello took a deep breath before insisting that she knew Nigeria was not going to exit the tournament in the group stage.
“But I gave myself confidence that we were not going to lose this game and that I have to do my best when I get on to get the result,” stressed Bello who from playing together with the rest of the team anticipated one of Nigeria’s forward liners to latch up to her cross to finish up.
“The good thing was my player (Ajibade) was there to finish for me, so I was very, very happy.”
Though it was a tough contest for Christopher Danjuma’s side against their Asian opponents, Nigeria’s motivation never waivered, full in the knowledge that one goal would change their fortunes.
“The match was very important and we wanted to win the match,” said Super Falconets midfielder Peace Efih. “We wanted to make sure we went through, that’s why we fought to the end. In the second half, we just had to push and keep the spirit of the team moving. It’s all about winning, it’s all about fighting to the end.”
With that level of desire, Nigeria heads into their next challenge in Concarneau on Thursday, as Falconets meet Spain in the quarter-finals. “The quarter-finals won’t be easy, but we will fight to the finish,” Efih said. “We believe in putting out our best every time. With our togetherness, we believe we will get somewhere.”