06 October 2014 02:48
Nigeria coach Edwin Okon, is unfazed about the challenge of returning Super Falcons to winning ways on the continent at the TN Mobile 9th African Women Championship Namibia 2014.
The Super Falcons are a record six-time winner of the tournament but finished a distant fourth at the last championship in 2012 in Equatorial Guinea.
The Nigerians would open their account in Namibia against the giant-killing Ivorians, who edged holders Equatorial Guinea in the qualifiers, but Okon says his side have strength in depth to handle their West African foes and go all the way.
Okon, was a former assistant coach with the senior women's national team before he was mandated to head the technical crew of the U-20 side which finished fourth at the 2012 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in Japan. A highly successful trainer on the domestic scene, he has led River Angels to win many laurels.
Under his watch, the Super Falcons dismissed Rwanda on a 12-1 aggregate to book a place for the 11-25 October 2014 championship. In an interview with Cafonline.com, Okon noted that his experience will be vital for his team in their bid to reclaim their number one position on the continent.
Cafonline.com: How prepared is your team to face the rest of the continent with the tournament few days away?
Edwin Okon: As far as we are concerned, we are set and that is the reason we have been playing series of friendly matches. I’m satisfied with the response of the players. So, we are ready for the challenges ahead.
What are your chances in the same group with hosts Namibia, Cote d’Ivoire and Zambia?
I want to believe our chances are good though we are expecting no easy games. The most important thing for us is that we have prepared well and we are going to take one game at a time. The opening game against Cote d’Ivoire is important for us because it would set the tone for the rest of the competition. We are looking forward to the match against Cote d’Ivoire with optimism.
How are you coping with the demand of the transition from U-20 to the senior team?
I don’t there is a big deal about this once there is experience. I’m a coach and the essesntial point at this level is the experience one has gathered over the years. So, it has been good and I’m enjoying what I’m doing.
Are you confident in your team’s abilities to pick one of the three spots to qualify for the World Cup?
Yes, we are aiming to qualify and that is one of our major ambitions. I’m sure we are going to make it. I’m confident because we have been preparing well. Secondly, we have a crop of players that are talented and experienced.
You have drafted some players including Asisat Oshoala from the U-20 team. How have they been able to fuse into the Super Falcons?
They have settled well into the team and Oshoala for instance has been scoring too. It is all about team effort and I want to believe all the players selected are ready.
Which other players are you looking forward to and what are your thoughts as you go to Namibia?
There are no star players in this squad; rather we want to play as a team. My thought is that we are going to do well in Namibia and you can count on the players to deliver.