After a shock first round exit at the last FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup in Papua New Guinea, Nigeria's Super Falconets will hope to bounce back in style starting with this weekend's First Round first leg of the France 2018 qualifier against Tanzania at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium in Benin City.
The Falconets failed to go past the group stage in Papua New Guinea despite their rich pedigree after finishing runners-up in 2010 and 2014, and also quarter finalists in 2004, 2006 and 2008, and the semi-finalists in 2012.
Head Coach Christopher Danjuma has inherited few players from the Nigeria U-17 squad that participated at the global championship in 2016 in Jordan. In the new-look Falconets are the like of Rasheedat Ajibade, Cynthia Aku, Oluwakemi Famuditi, Joy Duru; Gloria Ogbonna amongst others and Danjuma is equally confident they would add quality to his side.
"We have players who participated in the last FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup and few others who are still within the age brackets from the last U-20 World Cup. I believe their experience coupled with the good training we have had in Abuja before coming to Benin City for Saturday's match would certainly give us the edge against Tanzania," Danjuma told CAFOnline.com
He added that he was aware of the daunting task of playing on the continent after Equatorial Guinea eliminated the Super Falcons under his watch in the qualifiers for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. Then as caretaker coach after Edwin Okon was given the sack after a dismal FIFA Women's World Cup outing in Canada, the Super Falcons were held 1-1 in Abuja but agonizingly lost 2-1 in the reverse in Bata, bowing out 3-2 on aggregate.
"We have told the girls how important it is for us to win very well on Saturday. The good thing is that Nigeria remains one of the strongest teams at this level and we hope to continue with the same tradition of winning our matches come Saturday," he affirmed.
Tanzania hosts the return leg in a fortnight in Dar-es-Salaam with the aggregate winner facing either Morocco or Senegal at the penultimate round.
Two teams will emerge from the African qualifiers to represent the continent at the FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup scheduled for 7-26 August 2018 in France.
15.09.2017 Algiers Algeria vs Ghana
16.09.2017 Conakry Guinea vs Cameroon
17.09.2017 Benin City Nigeria vs Tanzania
16.09.2017 Sale Morocco vs Senegal
17.09.2017 Johannesburg South Africa vs Namibia
17.09.2017 Hawassa Ethiopia vs Kenya
Burundi vs Rwanda*
*Tunisia vs Sierra Leone