The Super Falcons of Nigeria begin their Women’s Africa Cup of Nations (AWCON) defence on Sunday when they come up against Banyana Banyana of South Africa.
Speaking to the media ahead of this game head coach of the South African team, Desiree Ellis has lauded the team and their preparation so far for the tournament.
“Our preparation started at the beginning of the year and we had really really good preparation but preparation doesn’t guarantee you success. You’ve got to execute your plans and the first game of any tournament is always the most important.”
When asked if her team is prepared to take on the defending champions on Sunday Desiree said “if we are not prepared today (Saturday), we’re in serious trouble.
“We’ve worked really hard for this. We have had good preparation but it’s about the execution of the plans. It’s about being on top of your game from the time the game starts till the end and that’s the beauty of this team,” Desiree enthused.
“We’ve shown over the last two years that we create chances till the 92th or 93rd minute. We’ve got to be phenomenal tomorrow otherwise we will be forgotten,” she added.
Banyana Banyana narrowly lost to the Super Falcons in the semi-finals two years ago and when asked if she had any form of revenge in mind coach Desiree answered “it’s not about revenge. However being the first game of the tournament makes it an important match as it sets the tone for the rest of the tournament.
“A positive result will not only give us the momentum, it will also give us the opportunity to go to the next round and that is the most important. So it’s not about revenge but just looking at the next game and how we can beat the opponent,” she said.
“We were just speaking with Oparanozie, Oshoala and Ordega this morning so we are opponents doesn’t mean we cannot be friends with each other, but on matchday friendship goes out of the window and after the match we shake hands and be friends again. So for me it’s never about revenge.”
Desiree then took questions on her team’s qualification chances in a group with the eight and two time champions and here’s what she had to say: “I think if we look at other games we get ahead of ourselves so we are just concentrating on one game for now.
“With regards to the other teams, no team is easy anymore so you underestimate a team at your own peril. People have said the other group is easier; and then you underestimate your opponent and the next moment you’re out of the tournament. So what we’re concentrating on is the first game and when that is out of the way we concentrate on the next game and so on and so on.”
There is no doubt that it will be a tight one between the Super Falcons of Nigeria and the Banyana Banyana of South Africa on Sunday afternoon when both teams lock horns at the Cape Coast Stadium as the Falcons look to kick off their title defence in the best possible way.
Sola Oyeniyi in Cape Coast, Ghana