The Head Coach of the Nigeria national women’s team, the Super Falcons, Edwin Okon, has said that there will be no automatic shirts for any player when the process of selecting those to represent the country at the FIFA Women’s World Cup, which will take place this year in Canada, commences.
In an interview with PREMIUM TIMES, the 2014 African Women’s Championship winning Coach and also Rivers Angels Coach said preparations for the upcoming tournaments were so far going smoothly. He also spoke of his wish to see the Nigerian President host them for winning the AWC in Namibia in 2014.
The Super Falcons are currently camped in Abuja for qualifying matches for the All African games, the Olympics and their participation at the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup;
Read the excerpts:
PT: How are you preparing for your first leg of the All African Games Qualifiers?
Okon: They are gradually responding to training to take us to where we are supposed to be. Their response is too sweet. I like their responses. First thing is they listen and it makes me happy.
PT: What of other friendly matches towards your preparations?
Okon: We have been playing local friendly matches with different teams, and this is helping the team, but with the two international friendlies we have before the World Cup, we hope to prepare better.
PT: How many players are in camp for now and when will you choose the final squad?
Okon: Right now, we are 35 and we are supposed to be 40. At this level we don’t intend to drop anyone so quickly because the foreigners are not here to certify who and who and we are having a match on the 22nd March in Mali. We even have the intention of bringing one or two legs to fortify the team against Mali. As far as the AAG and Olympics (are concerned) we don’t intend to drop so quickly.
PT: What about Asisat Osoala?
Okon: Asisat is an individual and we don’t build a team based on one particular person. If you do so then the team is dead. I don’t think they will release her but if we see her, to God be the glory. So we go ahead with or without her. Even Esther Sunday’s club said the event is not on FIFA calendar.
PT: Are you under any kind of pressure to deliver looking at the huge tasks ahead of you?
Okon: I am a grassroot coach. I like the girls that no one even know; no one sees them play and at that level nobody pressurizes me. Within me I see they play to the level that I am okay with. I’m not under any form of pressure, I’m fine.
PT: For the FIFA World Cup, what’s your selection type? Do you have any player in mind?
Okon: I can’t take an unfit player with me to the World Cup no matter how popular. If you’re not fit or nursing an injury it won’t work. All players will come and test for the World Cup no automatic shirt for anybody whether you come from the moon or sky.
PT: What target did you set for yourself?
Okon: We want to surpass the previous records in all African Games. We also want to get to the World Cup final; that’s our ultimate target.
PT: Is Mali a threat to you?
Okon: There’s no team that’s not a threat. Mali is a threat to us but we just have to prepare and see how to come out of it. I don’t even have their tape but we don’t always rely on watching people’s matches. I can watch you today and tomorrow you change. What we always do is to prepare our team so that whoever we meet we won’t complain.
PT: Are you not sad that despite all your team’s hard work and success at the African Women’s championship, the President refused to host you?
Okon: I pray that the number one football man in the country (President Goodluck Jonathan) remembers us because it will be a very big morale booster to the team. We do hope he remember us in spite of his tight schedules.