By Izuchukwu Okosi:
Nigeria will look to make a statement of intent in less than five hours time in the opening Group C fixture of the 2014 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup, when they take on Mexico at the Moncton Stadium, Canada.
The Super Falconets have advanced into the semi-finals in the last two tournaments, reaching the final in 2010 when they lost to Germany 2-0. The coach Peter Dedevbo charges are aware of the high expectation back home.
Skipper, Patience Okaeme, have admitted that the results posted by their successors, more or less, makes the team’s chances of progressing through a difficult group with the likes of England, Korea Republic and Mexico.
But the 19-year-old insists they would rather retain the confidence that comes with representing Nigeria, one of the global powers of women’s cadet football.
The Falconets are expected to kickoff their campaign with a win over Mexico but the Central Americans whose women equally play a brand of attractive football, will not be an easy nut to crack in this game.
Without doubt, Nigeria will have one of the most experienced teams in Canada with many of their players used during the qualifers, having already participated at various global competitions.
At least, a dozen of the players who represented the country at the FIFA U-17 tournament in Azerbaijan two years ago are in contention for a place in Peter Dedevbo’s line-up this night/early Thursday morning.
Halimatu Ayinde, Uchechi Sunday, Chinwendu Ihezuo, Uchenna Kanu, Victoria Aidelomon and captain Patience Okaeme are all sure to cause the Mexiacans unabated pressure throughout the duration of the game.
Tonight’s game which kicks off 12 midnight Nigerian time is the third consecutive time that both countries will be facing each other at the FIFA U-20 World Cup.
In all of their previous campaigns, the Falconets have only lost one of their opening games – in 2004 when they were pipped 1-0 by China PR.
Coach of the team Peter Dedevbo has sounded that he remains confident with the calibre of players at his disposal, noting that he has assembled the best legs that can take on any team in Canada.
“I have assembled some of the best players in the country, they are smart and experienced. Bringing players from the U-17 team that went to Costa Rica and others from Super Falcons has brought competition to the team, and we have played a couple of friendly matches as build-up to the tournament.”
“Am aware of the previous records of the team, am confident this time around that my target is to bring home the trophy.”
Dedevbo’s counterpart, Christopher Cuellar will also be looking forward to a good start to the World Cup but the team which scores first could have a chance to win the game as the other would naturally hope to counter and close up the game, thereby leaving spaces behind for the opposition to exploit.