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Can the Falconets Soar Where Eagles Fail to Fly?

first_imgJUST LAST MONTH, NIGERIA’S MALE NATIONAL TEAM TO THE 2018 WORLD CUP IN RUSSIA BROKE THE HEART OF MANY SOCCER-LOVING NIGERIANS AS THEY FAILED TO PASS THE GROUP STAGE. WITH THE FALCONETS SET TO KICK-START THEIR CAMPAIGN IN THE FIFA U-20 CHAMPIONSHIP IN FRANCE ON MONDAY, KUNLE ADEWALE ASKS IF THE TEAM CAN BRUSH ASIDE THE OPPOSITION POSED BY FEMALE FOOTBALL POWERHOUSE -GERMANY AND CHINA IN GROUP D TO BOOK A PLACE IN THE LAST 16 AND EVEN GO ALL THE WAY?AFTER LOSING TWICE TO GERMANY (2010 AND 2014) IN THE FINAL OF THE FIFA U-20 WORLD CUP, THE FALCONETS OF NIGERIA ON THURSDAY DEPARTED FROM THEIR FINAL TRAINING CAMP IN TIROL, AUSTRIA FOR FRANCE WITH THE ULTIMATE AIM OF BETTERING ITS 2010 AND 2014 FEAT. BUT THE FIRST HURDLE IS GETTING PAST THE GROUP STAGE WHERE IT WOULD BE CONTENDING IN GROUP D WITH OLD FOES –  GERMANY, CHINA AND HAITI. The FIFA 2018 U-20 Women’s World Cup will kick-off in France on August 5, but Nigeria would be starting its campaign on Monday with a big test against Germany in an encounter that would go a long way in determining if the team would book a ticket to the round of 16.The Falconets remain Nigeria’s most successful team at the global level, winning silver at the FIFA World Cup twice in Germany 2010 and Canada 2014, bronze once in Japan in 2012, and reaching the quarter-finals in Thailand in 2004, Russia in 2006) and Chile in 2008.To qualify for the 2018 U-20 Women’s World Cup finals, the Falconets walloped Tanzania’s U-20 girls 9-0 aggregate, brushed aside Morocco 6-2 on aggregate and pummeled their South African counterparts 8-0 over two legs in January.The coach of the team has never hidden his resolve to go all the way in the competition. Speaking before the team’s departure from Abuja, he said they were well prepared for the tournament.“We have a good chance of surpassing our best record at the tournament. The team is well prepared and I believe we won’t disappoint. We have studied our opponents and I believe we can deal with their strength,” Danjuma said.Corroborating her coach’s confidence, Super Falconets’ Captain Kemi Abiodun said they are not be going to France to see the beauty of Paris but to make a statement at the tournament, just as she said the players had all it takes to succeed at the finals.“We are going to France to do our best; we do not want to come back to Nigeria empty-handed,” she said. Her colleague Mary Saiki also buttressed Abiodun’s statement saying they have prepared well for the championship. “The team has played in the final of this championship before and we are going to make sure we keep to that record by going far and coming back with laurels,” she said.As part of their resolve to do well in France, the Falconets hammered Austrian Women League top flight team, FC WackerInnsbruck 4-0 in their final pre-tournament friendly in Tirol last Saturday, with a brace from top scorer Rasheedat Ajibade and one each from Adebisi Saheed and Chinyere Igboamalu. The Nigerian girls had earlier spanked another Austrian top flight side, FC Bergheim 3-0.Danjuma named a final list of 21 players last Friday during the team’s 12-day training exercise in Austria in preparation for the World Cup, consisting of three goalkeepers, six defenders, seven midfielders and five strikers.It, however, remains to be seen if the Super Falconets can soar where the Super Eagles failed to fly as Nigeria soccer-loving fans are yet to overcome lacklustre performance of the male senior national team in Russia, where the team failed to go past the group stage.Africa’s other flag-bearer, Ghana must negotiate a tough Group A against host France, New Zealand and The Netherlands. Group B has North Korea, England, Mexico and Brazil while USA, Japan, Paraguay and Spain fight things out in Group C.Share this:FacebookRedditTwitterPrintPinterestEmailWhatsAppSkypeLinkedInTumblrPocketTelegramlast_img read more