By Amaechi Agbo
Coach of Under 20 female national team, the Falconets, Christopher Danjuma has stated that the priority of his girls is to qualify from the group stage of the France 2018 Under 20 Women World Cup.
Speaking in an interview after the team’s training recently, Coach Danjuma emphasized the importance of tune-up matches the team has been playing since their camping started in May.
The coach who expressed optimism over his team’s success in the tournament said even though they are aiming for qualification from the group, they ear nevertheless, not taking any team in the group comprising Germany, China nad Haiti for granted.
“Every match you play during your preparation has its aim. We have Germany in our group; we have China that runs very well and Haiti being a team that nobody knows anything about and we can all see what is happening in the World Cup. So we are preparing all-round. The team must be physically strong and fast. We are also working on the players’ concentration, closing space against opponents and others. We are looking at their speed, strength and ability to absorb pressure and so far they are doing well in theses regard. That is not to say there is no room for improvement.
“We are a team that progresses in every step we are taking, from our first match in the qualifiers we kept getting better till we played our last match against South Africa. So we are building on that momentum. Three of my players were in the Falcons selection – Anan Imoh, Christy Achebe and Gloria Ogbonna – were with the Falcons and they are back with us.
“In every competition, you plan step-by-step. First you plan to come out of the group stage and comfortably too, then you plan along as you progress. But the most important preparation is planning to get out of the group, study our group opponents so that after the group stage, we can plan ahead. Our main concern now is to qualify from our group by beating Germany, China and Haiti. That is the first and paramount concern. By the grace of God, when we get to the quarterfinals, we begin to think about other things.
“But suffice it to say that it is not as if we are leaving the teams in the competition out. Every team that we know that has been a ruler at this level, that has been prominent champions, we have been looking into their games,” he explained
The coach who further explained the major tactics they are working on added that the team will jet out of the country in the second week of July for a three-week camping in Austria. He also provided update on the slated three international matches being lined up for the team by the NFF.
“We don’t have challenges. We are training and getting ready for other matches. Getting ready for our tour and planning to go out and be successful.
“We are working on set pieces. The problem with an African player is that he switches off when the game is on or when the game gets deeper. So we are working on the mental concentration and alertness of our players.
“We have received confirmation of three friendly matches. We have spoken with the agent and the dates for the matches are being worked out. He has not given us the names of the countries but there are three international friendly matches lined up for the team. In fact, we even have to choose the country we play because we have a match a week before the kick off.
“Our camping in Austria, hopefully, will start in the second week of July,” the coach concluded.