Coach Edwin Okon begins an uphill task to lead the Nigerian ladies to regain the African Women Championship trophy against their Ivorian neighbours on Saturday in Windhoek
Nigeria’s senior women team will begin campaign to reassert their on-pitch dominance on the continent against Ivory Coast in their African Women Championship opening game in Namibia on Saturday.
Coach Edwin Okon, who took over from erstwhile coach Kadiri Ikhana after the team’s first-time failure to make the last-three at the 2012 edition in Equatorial Guinea, will bear the burden to redeem the image of the country at the championship.
A calm Okon could contain the mounting pressure from fans and his employers as he will rely on a strong-21 squad mixed with experience, youthfulness, class, strength and depth of quality.
Without mincing words, the Super Falcons would be aware an opening day win in grand style will count the most if they hope to reach the final and pick a ticket to the 2015 Fifa Women’s World Cup in Canada.
For the trio of Precious Dede, Perpetua Nkwocha and Stella Mbachu, (now in their thirties) , they will be hoping to prove a point and gun for a place in the squad for Canada 2015.
Similarly, the new generation of youthful prospects in striking trio of Desire Oparanozie, Francisca Ordega and new kid on the block Asisat Oshoala would cause steer at the tournament.
Ivory Coast on their own part defeated Mali 5-0 on aggregate, before pulling off a shocking upset against defending champions Equatorial Guinea win on away goal rule after 3-3 aggregate score to seal a last eight ticket.
Similarly for Nigeria, they worked over Sierra Leone before brushing aside Rwanda 12- 1 on aggregate to reach the finals.
The Super Falcons in their final preparations scored a total of 12 goals, conceding five goals against five males’ teams with three wins, a draw and defeat.
However, the Nigerian contingent must be wary of Ivorian threats in the trio of Jose Nahi, Koko Nguessan and Tia vino N’Rehy, who especially scored four times in their 2012 qualifiers and significant in 2014 run-in.
Ivory Coast recorded two wins and a defeat with 2-1 win over Mamelodi Sundowns’ Ladies, Johannesburg University female team and 2-1 loss to South Africa of Group B in their three-preparatory games.
The Super Falcons will take their Cote d’Ivoire counterparts for the first time at the 10,300 capacity-seater Sam Nujoma Stadium by 7pm Nigerian time.