By Albert Akota
General Secretary of the Nigeria Football Federation, Dr. Mohammed Sanusi yesterday charged the coaches of the U17 women national team, Flamingos, to place as much premium on good conduct, excellent character and level-headedness as on-field ability, in their final selection of players for the team.
Sanusi spoke as received the crew of assistant coaches Bankole Olowookere (assistant coach 1), Queendoleen Akpan (assistant coach 2) and Mohammed Ndanusa (goalkeepers’ trainer) at the NFF Secretariat in Abuja, as the crew intensified work ahead of selection of the squad that will confront Guinea in a 2020 FIFA U17 Women’s World Cup qualifying fixture early next month.
“Good character and demeanour, as well as comportment showing good upbringing and sense of purpose, are as important as ability in any profession, football inclusive. Anyone who lacks good character and discipline cannot succeed in any endeavour. You must take these to heart as you prepare the girls for the challenges ahead.
“Nigeria has an impressive record in the history of the FIFA U17 Women’s World Cup but we expect you to do even better than your predecessors. I congratulate you on your appointment and I assure you that the NFF will give you maximum support to succeed in the job.”
Olowookere, Akpan and Ndanusa are preparing the Flamingos for the FIFA U17 Women’s World Cup qualifying fixture against Guinea, which first leg will hold in Conakry on Sunday, 1st March, with the return leg in Nigeria a fortnight after. The Guineans edged out neighbours Guinea Bissau in a preliminary round.
A full house of the invited playing body is on ground at the team’s Bluespring Hotel, Abuja and twice-a-day training sessions have intensified at the FIFA Goal Project facility inside the National Stadium Complex Package B.
This year’s FIFA U17 Women’s World Cup finals, the seventh since the competition was launched in New Zealand in 2008, will be staged in India.
Nigeria participated at all five tournaments between 2008 and 2016 but narrowly failed to qualify for the 2018 edition held in Uruguay, following defeat by Cameroon on the away goal rule in the final lap of the qualification series.