FIFA Women’s World Cup: The Tasks Before Super Falcons (Conclusion)

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By Amaechi Agbo

Players and officials of the team have at various times and venues spoken of the determination of the team to create a new record for the country.

Nigeria Football Federation, the football governing body in the land, had come out to debunk rumour that it gave the team a target unlike they did to the Super Eagles during Russia World Cup last year.

Perhaps, NFF’s not giving the team a target could be predicated on the need not to put the team under undue pressure. Nevertheless, the team are aware of the onerous responsibilities before them – to go and do the country proud.

Already, the team had achieved a success by qualifying for the 8th edition of the tournament and by that virtue ensuring that Nigeria is appearing for her 8th consecutive World Cup since 1991 but as our people say, the reward for good work is more work.

Speaking ahead of the Saturday encounter with Norway and the team’s readiness for the tournament, Super Falcons assistant coach told Best Choice Sports in an interview that the team are aware of what lies ahead of them.

“We are not unaware of the expectations. We have also taken cognisance of our past record. Our best was 20 years ago. This crop of players in our squad are capable and ready to better the best.

“We have all the support we need to excel because the federation has been massively supportive and we can only reciprocate their gesture by churning out results in the field of play.

“We are not taking anything for granted, our group is a tough one but we do not fear anybody. We have enough information about them, we have watched them play friendlies and we are prepared.

“We do not have injury worries. All the players are in good shape and ready to play. We are optimistic we will not disappoint Nigerians.

“NFF gave us all the support we needed and we will do our best. Don’t forget that to whom much is given, much is expected.

“We cannot disclose our tactical formations now if at all that will be done neither can we say who and who will play but the joy in the camp is that all the 23 players are in good condition to deliver. The chief coach will decide who to play and whoever he chooses will justify the jersey,” he concluded.

Norway comes into the Saturday encounter with the mindset that they should be able to steamroll the African champions. Only last week, the Grasshoppers hammered another African representative, South Africa 7-2 in a friendly. And going back 24 years, at the second edition of the FIFA World Cup staged by Sweden, Norway lashed Nigeria 8-0 in a group stage encounter in Helsinborg.

Head Coach Thomas Dennerby is asking his girls to take it one match at a time and develop a positive mindset about the finals.

“A lot is hanging on the first match against Norway. If we are able to get a good result, then we will take it from there.

“A positive mindset is key to what we are here for. You must believe in yourselves and have confidence in what you can do here. You must give it your best,” he told the players after Thursday’s training session at the Stade Jean Boucton in Reims.

Midfielder Ngozi Okobi said “It is true that we have not really pulled our weight at the FIFA World Cup before now. But I can say we have the team to do that here in France. The NFF has done well by ensuring good preparation for the team, with the tournaments that we played.

“A lot is hanging on the first match against Norway. If we are able to get a good result, then we will take it from there.”

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