By Femi Solaja with agency report
Super Falcons Coach, Thomas Dennerby, is already looking beyond the final match of the 2018 Africa Women’s Cup of Nations (AWCON) against the Bayana Bayana of South Africa as he expresses optimism that his wards are in good shape to handle three solid opponent.
Moments after it was confirmed that Nigeria will go head long against the same opponent that had beaten them in the tournament, the coach expressed satisfaction that he hopes to get his revenge this Saturday in the final match.
The Swedish tactician was on his feet for most of the semi final against the Indomitable Lionesses of Cameroon in Accra on Tuesday, which exhausted the statutory regulation and extra time and then went into penalty shoot –out before the Cup holders inched past their bitter rivals into the final and a place in France.
“This is a dream final but when we arrived in Ghana, we made it clear our first target was the ticket to the World Cup, and after that, retaining the trophy. Now, we have achieved our first target. On Saturday, we have the opportunity of achieving our second target. We will go in there and give it our best shot and take the trophy back to Nigeria.
“Sincerely, I was not happy with our performance in the first 20 minutes of the match. We lost the ball too many times; we were too anxious and the defenders and midfielders couldn’t contribute to the attack. However, the positive from this tournament is our defence is very good. We have a compact team and that is why we made it today. Going to the World Cup, we need to improve the way we attack. We need to create chances and make the best use of the opportunities that come our way,” he explained.
In a related development, the First Vice President of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), Seyi Akinwunmi has declared Tuesday’s battling win over Cameroon and the accompanying qualification for the FIFA World Cup and the Women’s AFCON Final as justification by the Super Falcons of NFF’s confidence in the team.
“I feel elated, and I am sure that my colleagues on the board of the NFF will feel the same way anywhere they are presently. The NFF has always had confidence in the Super Falcons and we are happy we got this World Cup ticket.
“It was not easy and it could not have been easy, as that was a semi final match (against Cameroon). The Cameroonians were the hosts in 2016 when we beat them in front of a capacity crowd to retain the trophy, so they came with every ounce of strength and tactical knowledge to try and gain revenge. But champions would always be champions and we overpowered them.”
On the preparation for the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup finals in France, the Chairman of Lagos State Football Association and Member, CAF Youth Competitions Committee said that there would be no half measures.
“The FIFA World Cup is the FIFA World Cup, and we must put in place a proper and comprehensive preparatory programme for the Super Falcons. We must utilize all the available FIFA windows for the team to play friendlies.
“After the final match on Saturday, the NFF will ask Coach Thomas Dennerby to submit his programme and we will take it from there.”
Nigeria is one of only seven countries in the world that have qualified for all the editions of the FIFA Women’s World Cup since the championship was launched in China in 1991. The others are the United States of America, Germany, Sweden, Brazil, Norway and Japan.
The Super Falcons will be joined in France by South Africa’s Banyana Banyana, who they meet in the Women AFCON Final in Accra on Saturday, as well as the winner of the losers’ final between Cameroon and Mali.
21 Former African Stars for The Match in Lagos Next Year
By Duro Ikhazuagbe
Twenty-one African football legends including Didier Drogba and Liberian President, George Weah, have been selected to participate in ‘The Match: A Celebration of Excellence in Sport’ project scheduled to hold March 16, 2019.
Also, the game is part of the events lined up to reopen Onikan Stadium under reconstruction to meet FIFA standard.
Some of the other former stars of the Beautiful Game in the continent who have been approached to join in extolling the giant strides made by Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode include Senegal’s El -Hajj Diouf, Drogba’s former Elephants teammate, Kolo Toure, Ghanaian duo of Michael Essien and Stephen Appiah. Former French star, Christian Karembu is also on the card to storm Lagos.
From the home front, ex internationals like Samson Siasia, Nwankwo Kanu, Austin Jay Jay Okocha, Joseph Yobo, Julius Aghahowa and several others have been listed to participate in the African All-Stars versus Nigerian Legends.
Speaking at a media parley in Lagos yesterday to announce the project, Akanni who along with Samson Siasia are the chief architects of The Match, said Gov Ambode has made laudable sports development in Lagos that he’s worth celebrating.
“As internationals, we have seen the infrastructural developments in Lagos under Gov Ambode. The Onikan Stadium that has been abandoned over the years is under reconstruction to meet FIFA standard. Teslim Balogun Stadium is undergoing similar reconstruction while the Agege and Epe Stadiums are in fantastic shape not to talk of the Maracana Sports complex in Ajegunle. These and other laudable efforts of Gov Ambode in providing sports infrastructure, we believe, are aimed at providing the enabling environment for youths to thrive and achieve their dreams in sports,” explained the former Super Eagles player.
Akanni further hinted that part of the proceeds from the event will go into supporting families of distressed ex Nigerian international players.
“If you go around, you will see several former footballers who served this country in several capacities but unable to meet up in life. We will support their children’s education where ever possible.”
A representative of Drogba who flew into Lagos for the media session lauded the project of celebrating African former legends and urged organizers of the project to provide adequate security and logistics for the invited former African stars.
Present at the event which held at the Regent Hotel inside Ikeja GRA were former Green Eagles captain, Henry Nwosu, Tajudeen Disu and Ifeanyi Udeze.