The Falcons did not start well at the Africa Women’s Nations Cup [AWCON] in Ghana. But after 11 goals in two consecutive matches, they are ready to go again – to qualify for another FIFA World Cup, having not missed any since they attended their first in 1991.
Another enabling stat is that every time they have qualified for the final of AWCON, they have won it.
But they have a steep mountain to climb in the guise of the Cameroon, as the Cameroonians mimic their male counterparts, with being physical and playing in a robust style.
And just as Thomas Dennerby, the Falcons’ coach, stated in an interview in Ghana, the main objective is to qualify for France 2019.
“Whatever the opposition, we study them and apply what is necessary for us to win,” he said.
For the Falcons to qualify for an eighth consecutive World Cup on Tuesday, they must execute the following three strategies:
Play Smart By Playing Higher Defensive Line
The Cameroonians know that they are short on quality player-for-player ;and to negate that, they would be overly physical and that is where Thomas Dennerby’s managerial skills must come to the fore.
The Falcons have very experienced players, who can adopt the smart tactic of making the pitch as wide as possible and the route to their goal a longer one.
They will also be best served by using diagonal and short passes to avoid the physical battle the Lionesses desire. For this, Onome Ebi, the captain of the team, must play more like a libero, joining the midfield to compress that zone and employing her ability to send long passes to the fore.
Osoala Must Be Decisive
Despite the hat trick against Equatorial Guinea, Asisat Osoala knows she could have scored seven goals against Equatorial Guinea last Thursday. Against Cameroon, she must reiterate the fact she is the best on the continent.
Her speed and directness will be a constant source of worry for the Cameroonians and she has to be the Falcons’ best outlet of relieving pressure in the middle and in striking at goal.
Against Cameroon, the Dalian Quanjian FC striker must realise she may have the only scoring chance for her country which means she must remain calm under the pressure and hit the jackpot.
If there is one player Dennerby must help succeed, it is Osoala; and that means creating one-on-one situations for her throughout the encounter to maximise her speed and shooting.
Ayinde must be more circumspect with her passing
One glaring worry for Dennerby and his coaching crew will have been the waywardness of Halimatu Ayinde’s passing.
Be it 10m, 20m or the occasional punt, Ayinde has looked totally unfit to successfully pass the ball to her colleagues.
Being the main defensive player means she wins a lot of balls but her dire use of the balls she wins kills the tempo of her colleagues.
Maybe Dennerby can help by pushing her up the bit and letting the captain, Rita Chikwelu sit deeper. Whatever tactic is deployed, the Falcons need Ayinde to pass the 60 per cent accuracy in her passing stats.
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