NIGERIA’S Super Falcons are on course to lift their first ever West African Football Union (Wafu) trophy after winning their opening match in the ongoing regional tournament taking place in Ivory Coast by thrashing Burkina Faso 5-1.
Seen as a good warm-up for this year’s Fifa Women’s World Cup kicking off in France next month, the Wafu tournament is being used by the Falcons’ Swedish coach Thomas Dennerby, to pick his final squad. On Thursday, the team got off to a flying start thanks to a hat trick from Uchenna Kanu and further goals from Evelyn Nwabouku and Amarachi Okonkwo, who both scored from the penalty spot.
By the 73rd minute Nigeria was 5-0 ahead but the Burkina Babes got their consolation goal in the 79th minute through Charlotte Milligo. Later today, the Falcons will face Niger Republic in their second match, where Kanu, who was awarded Woman of the Match against Burkina Faso will be hoping to be in fine goal scoring form again.
Coach Dennerby has named Desire Oparanozie as team captain as part of his preparations and she is expected to lead the team to France 2019. Oparanozie made her debut for Super Falcons in 2010 and she has won over 30 caps for the country, scoring 22 goals.
In 2011, Coach Dennerby guided Sweden to third place at the Women’s World Cup and is now hoping to at least do as well with the Falcons. After mixed results in 2019, Mr Dennerby, who is set to become the first foreign coach to both qualify for and lead Nigeria at the World Cup, is confident they have had a decent preparation to impress in France.
He added: “There are a lot of skilful and creative players in Africa but these players need to understand how to play together as a team. Football is really a team sport, one player cannot do it all, so African countries can perform better when they go to the World Cup as a team.”
“African teams need to learn to move the ball around, defend and attack together as a unit. I think sometimes they play more individually and in a bad shape as a collective side unlike teams from other continents, which is the biggest difference affecting them.”
At the World Cup which kicks off on June 7, nine-time African champions Nigeria are in a tough Group A alongside hosts France, 1995 winners Norway and South Korea. Nigeria’s best showing at a Women’s World Cup was getting to the quarter finals in 1999.