Therefore, Estadio de Bata would be the battle ground on Sunday, 2 August 2015, for the second leg to determine who progresses to the final stage of the qualifiers.
Super Falcons’ interim coach Chris Danjuma who took over from Edwin Okon after FIFA Women’s World Cup in Canada where they failed to go past the group stage, says his team would surmount the obvious uphill task.
Cafonline.com: How challenging has it been since you took over from Edwin Okon as the Super Falcons’ coach?
Chris Danjuma: It has been great though challenging. Being a new position for me and coming in from my previous position as the first assistant to coach Okon means much is expected from me as well. This is even against the background that Nigerians want to see the Super Falcons at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro; and playing against an old foe like Equatorial Guinea makes it even more challenging.
You recorded a 1-1 draw at home against Equatorial Guinea in your first game in charge, how difficult was that encounter in Abuja?
A lot of things came into play before our first leg game against Equatorial Guinea; though I’m not the type who likes to give excuses, the late arrival of some of our players and coupled with the death of Miss Gracious Akujobi (Team Media Officer) few days to the encounter really affected our morale. So the circumstances and arrangement before the game really played a role but having said that, the first leg is gone and our focus now is on the second leg in Bata.
How are you preparing for the second leg game knowing that Equatorial Guinea as you admitted is a formidable side?
Already, the girls know that qualifying for the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in 2016 is a must and you know you have to react in a great way when you have your back against the wall. We don’t have a second thought about whether or not we are going to qualify and that has been the motivating factor for us going into the second leg game in Bata. Every player has been given more than 100 per cent in training
Nigeria missed out of the last Olympics in London in 2012; so what gives you the confidence that the Super Falcons would make it to Rio 2016?
I have a philosophy that has been a guiding principle: “whenever a man is given a chance, it is an opportunity for him to make change or history”. This is a great opportunity for us to make history because we narrowly missed out of the Olympic Football Tournament in 2012. It is now left to us as a team to take the bull by the horns and do our best to ensure that Nigeria make it this time around.
How is the team coping with the absence of some foreign based players including the free-scoring Asisat Oshoala who is not available again for the second leg in Bata?
Yes, we might not have Oshoala and others but a team is a team; football is a team sport. Even if they are around, it is possible that your best player might not click in a game and it is now left for the team to show what they can do. That is the kind of scenario we are faced with, but as a coach, you must always have a Plan B.
What is your Plan B then?
First and foremost, we have to push and psyche the players that they can get the job done and telling them that Asisat (Oshoala) used to be here with them until she got her chance and make the most of the opportunity. This is the opportunity for them to make names for themselves and I think they are responding well to the message. I believe there is always an opportunity for another Asisat to rise and that person is in this team. We want to ensure that the absence of one or two players is not felt by the team. We are going to Bata with the singular objective to ensure that Nigeria qualifies and hopefully we shall achieve that objective. I’m not under any pressure and what I expect from Nigerians is positive hope and support to ensure that we overcome Equatorial Guinea in Bata. We want to come back with a broad smile and happiness in the heart of everybody.
Four Past Key Encounters between Nigeria and Equatorial Guinea
28 October 2006, Oleh (AWC)
Nigeria 4-2 Equatorial Guinea
25 November 2008, Malabo (AWC)
Equatorial Guinea 1-0 Nigeria
14 November 2010, Johannesburg (AWC)
Nigeria 4-2 Equatorial Guinea
18 July 2015, Abuja (Olympic qualifier)
Nigeria 1-1 Equatorial Guinea
*AWC – African Women’s Championship