Nigeria will look to make a statement of intent in Wednesday night’s opening Group C fixture of the 2014 Fifa Under-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. The coach Peter Dedevbo charges are aware of the high expectation back home.
Skipper, Patience Okaeme, admits 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, difficult. But the 19-year-old insists they would rather retain the confidence that comes with representing one of the global powers of women’s cadet football.
“It’s good to know that Nigeria are one of the strongest teams around in this age group,” Falconets captain Uchechi told Fifa.com.
“It gives us confidence, and we’re also aware that we have a good side too.”
The task of going from near-ladies to champions is well on the card for the Nigeria U-20 girls, who could count on the experience provided by most of its squad members, a dozen of whom are graduate sets from the Fifa U-17 tournament in Azerbaijan two years ago.
Star striker Uchechi Sunday featured at the senior level at the Fifa Women’s World Cup in 2011 and was in the U-20 squad when Nigeria had its best run in 2010, but lost to hosts Germany in the final.
The tactician himself took charge of the U-17 side in Azerbaijan in 2012 before gaining promotion.
If expertise, statistic and hard work add up well for the West Africans, they could well be in line to compensate for their umpteen berth status on the world stage- with only Brazil, Germany and the USA being the other team to have participated at all editions of the tournament since its inception in 2002 in Canada.
“This time we want to go further. We want to win the trophy and that means more pressure for the team, whether you like it or not,” added Okaeme.