My recipe for Falcons – Jossy Lad
The immediate past coach of the Super Falcons, Joseph Ladipo, best known as Jossy Lad, has tasked the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) to give its full support to the team ahead of the FIFA Women's World Cup holding in Germany from June 25 – July 17.
The Falcons, who won the African Women Championship (AWC) in South Africa last year, are in Group A of the world competition. They will open their quest for honours at the event on June 26 with a game against France at the Rhein-Ncekar Arena in the city of Sinshein.
Since after the draws, some fans of the Nigerian team have continued to agitate that Falcons would play in what they dubbed as the 'group of death', which comprises the defending champion, Germany, ranked second in the world by FIFA, Canada, CONCACAF's champion ranked ninth in the world, and 2009 European Championship winner and world's eight best, France.
The Nigerian team is 27th in the current FIFA Rankings. But Lad, who is upbeat about the team's readiness to overcome odds, says there is nothing to fear as long as the NFF does the needful in good time.
He told Saturday Sunsports that his optimism rests on the recent performance of the team at the last AWC in South Africa, adding that having reclaimed the African title from Equatorial Guinea, the team was carved to make an impact at the world stage.
He praise the Alhaji Aminu Maigari-led NFF for the massive support it gave the Falcons during the AWC last year, stating that the support was largely responsible for the brilliant performance the girls put up at the continental championship.
'I don't agree with the talk that Super Falcons are in a group of death for the upcoming FIFA Women's World Cup in Germany,' Lad, who after he left the national team, berthed at Shooting Stars Sports Club (3SC) of Ibadan, said.
'As long as I'm concerned, there is nothing like group of death. Each team is made up of 11 players, who compete against one another in a match situation. What, therefore, counts in every match is the physical and mental preparedness of each squad, and not the team's name. So, the team that is better prepared is the one that usually carry the day.
'For me, I have the hope that Super Falcons will come up with a good performance in Germany. I was highly encouraged by their performance at the last AWC in South Africa. It tells me that if the players should go into the World Cup with the same superlative form that saw them lifting the continental title in South Africa, they will also make a good impact in Germany.
'As for the NFF,' he continued, 'I must praise the Alhaji Maigari-led board for the wonderful support it gave the girls before and during the AWC in South Africa. It was a remarkable improvement on what the team received in my days with the team. It's commendable.
'One will only ask the football house to be consistent with what it has started and in fact, try and improve on it. If the NFF should maintain that level of support, Falcons will do well among the comity of nations that will feature at the World Cup in Germany. But anything short of that, portends failure that will follow the difficulties in Germany.'
Lad went ahead to give a recipe that would guarantee Falcons' excellent performance in Germany. He said: 'It might be a good idea for the team to commence preparation early to enable the girls be in the right frame of mind for the World Cup. Early preparation will help the team to blend well and as well help in building the girls' confidence ahead of the competition.
'Besides, the NFF should strongly support the team financially. Proper financing is very important for a squad preparing for a world championship. The financial support will help the team to prepare adequately.'
Lad also praised the coaching prowess of Eucharia Uche, the team's handler, and backed her reported decision to fortify the team with new players, who were not part of the party at the AWC in South Africa.
'Coach Uche has done very well. I appreciate her for what she has achieved so far.
'Her recent decision to beef up the team with new players is highly welcomed. She is the one in charge of the team at the moment and, therefore, knows the relevant things to do to improve the fortunes of the team. She should go ahead and do the right thing, she has my full support,' Lad assured the first woman coach to lift the AWC trophy.