Two-time runners-up and one-time semi finalists Nigeria are upbeat about scooping the three points when they go up against one of Europe’s top teams, France in the opening match of Group C of this year’s FIFA U20 Women’s World Cup finals in San Jose on Thursday night.
Head Coach Christopher Danjuma minces no words about his faith in the high-scoring Falconets delivering on Thursday and afterwards: “The World Cup stage is about players’ mentality; we have prepared the team very well in that area. You have to go out there, aim to be the best and work hard to be the best. It is not picnic. I believe that these girls will do Nigeria proud.
“Playing seven matches in the African qualifying series toughened the team very well, and we have also worked on their psyche. Nigeria has never been also-ran at this level. Having reached the Final twice and made the semi finals once, the Falconets have pedigree in this championship. We cannot afford to falter. We will take it one match at a time, beginning with the game against France.”
Danjuma, who also led the team to the last tournament in France four years ago, where they lost narrowly to Spain (1-2) in the quarter finals, is banking on the experience of captain and central defender Oluwatosin Demehin, the lively midfield orchestra of Esther Onyenezide, Deborah Abiodun and Adoo Yina, and the ever-potent forwardline of Flourish Sabastine, Mercy Idoko and Joy Jerry.
First choice Monle Oyono is expected to be in goal against the French side, with wingbacks Omowunmi Oshobukola and Jumoke Alani also favoured to retain their places.
In the African qualifying series, the rampant Falconets hit 11 goals past hapless Central African Republic in the second round, spanked Republic of Congo 4-0 in Brazzaville –with the consequence that the Congolese failed to turn up for the return leg in Nigeria – and then routed Cameroon 3-0 on aggregate in the fourth round. The final qualifying fixture against Senegal was effectively over after Flourish Sabastine hit a hat-trick away in Thies, before the home team got a consolation goal from the spot late in the game.
On Thursday, Danjuma will be goading his girls to summon every sinew of strength, skill and savvy in them to overpower France and collect three points that will stabilize their campaign and empower their quest to go all the way.
“It will not be easy but we have what is known as the special ‘Nigeria spirit’ and we will go in there with confidence and belief in what we can do. We will play to our strengths – firm at the back and clinical at the fore.”
FALCONETS’ GROUP C GAMES
Vs France – Thursday, 11th August – Estadio Nacional – 12 midnight
Vs Korea Republic – Sunday, 14th August – Estadio Alejandro Morera Soto – 9pm
Vs Canada – Thursday, 18th August – Estadio Alejandro Morera Soto – 3am
ALL THE GROUPS
GROUP A: Costa Rica, Australia, Spain, Brazil
GROUP B: Germany, Colombia, New Zealand, Mexico
GROUP C: France, Nigeria, Canada, Korea Republic
GROUP D: Japan, The Netherlands, Ghana, USA
NFF to be part of Orok Oyo’s centennial celebrations in Calabar
The leadership of Nigeria Football Federation will be part of the celebrations being organized in honour of a former three-term Secretary-General of the football body and Nigeria’s first-ever Member of the FIFA and CAF Executive Committees, Etubom Oyo Orok Oyo in the Cross River State capital, Calabar on 27th August this year.
The man who was popularly known as ‘Mr Football’ would have been 100 years on 27th August 2022, having been born on that date in the year 1922.
One of Africa, nay the world’s most renowned football administrators, Etubom Oyo Orok Oyo served as Secretary-General of then Nigeria Football Association in 1958, and then between 1961 and 1963, and also between 1967 and 1971. He then moved to the Confederation of African Football, where he served as Member of the Executive Committee from 1974 to 1988.
Etubom Oyo was also Nigeria’s first-ever Member of the FIFA Executive Committee, and retired as Life Vice President of CAF. He died on 10th September 2008.
“We are planning a glamour event to celebrate Etubom Oyo Orok Oyo, and the family is working with a number of friends and the NFF to make it a memorable occasion. On the day, we will be launching a book that is a compilation of all the writings and speeches of the late Etubom Oyo, and we will also be launching the O3 Foundation on the same day,” Chief Orok Oyo, son of the late Etubom Oyo, said on Wednesday.
President of the NFF, Mr Amaju Melvin Pinnick is expected to lead a strong NFF team that will also include the General Secretary, Dr Mohammed Sanusi to Calabar for the historic event.