Two-time runners-up and one-time semi finalists, Nigeria is 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 tonight.
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 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 forward line 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.
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.