Super Falcons and the national U23 team, Dream Team VI will have mountains to climb tomorrow in Equatorial Guinea and Congo when they face their turbo charged opponents in pursuit of 2016 Olympic tickets.
While Falcons played a 1-1 draw in the first leg in Abuja against Nzalang Nacional of Equatorial Guinea, the Dream Team VI managed a slim 2-1 victory against Congo in Port-Harcourt.
The results posted by the two teams actually put them in precarious positions as far as qualifying for the Olympic games is concerned.
Falcons are up against one of the most formidable women national teams in Africa and will have to fight hard in Bata to get the result that will put them through.
Of the two teams, the Dream Team VI is going to face the most difficult assignment because in the first leg played in Port-Harcourt, the Congolese showed bared their fangs dangerously.
Even though the Eagles dominated both halves of the match, the Congolese guided by veteran tactician, Claude Le Roy were able to hold down the rampaging Nigerians.
The away goal scored by the Congolese is a morale booster as it may prove to be Eagles undoing tomorrow. It is an open secret that Congo need just 1-0 victory in the return leg to edge out the Eagles.
However, the players and officials of Dream Team VI who departed Nigeria for Congo in high spirits on Thursday are not afraid of the task before them.
Although they know that it is not going to be an easy one, going into the match with a win in the first leg, no matter how slim it is, has really gingered them.
“Qualification ticket is at stake in Congo and the players quite understand what the work description is.
“Good enough, we do not have injury worry at the moment so we will be fielding the very best against Congo.
“We are quite well in terms of preparation as nobody is under any illusion that the task in Congo will be an easy one.
“We believe we will get the desired result that will see us progress to the next stage of the qualification race,” said Alloy Agu, Dream Team VI’s goalkeepers coach.
Coach Samson Siasia who led the 2008 Dream Team to silver at the Beijing Games is optimistic that his wards will not play for draw in Congo.
He said even as they will play cautiously, Dream Team will go for a win against their host.
“We will play with intelligence but the mind-set will not be playing not to lose but playing to win instead. We will be going for an outright win,” Siasia told supersport.com.
Nigeria dominated the first leg but managed a slim win and the Nigeria trainer hopes his charges are more clinical in the return fixture.
“We had so many chances in the first leg while (Congo) had maybe two or three in the entire game.
“It’s a pity that we did not take our chances. We had chances to score lots of goals.
“(In the second leg), we would not want to make the same mistakes again.
“We have been working very hard in training this week to improve our goal scoring in front of goal and hopefully, the result will be better this time,” he said.
To ensure the ‘battle of Pointe-Noire’ ends in favour of his team, Siasia has strengthened his squad with some foreign based players and Enyimba Star, Kingsley Sokari who had featured for the Super Eagles.
In response, Congo too have called up at least six foreign based professionals to match the strength of the Eagles. They are midfielders Philzegerarld Mbaka, Hardy Binguila, Charlevy Mabiala, Yohan Andzouana and Julsy Boukama Kaya and striker Syvere Ganvoula Mboussy.
Binguila who plays for French club AJ Auxerre is already an integral member of Congo senior national team. His presence will no doubt pose a serious threat to Dream Team’s ambition.
However, apart from some of the foreign based Eagles like Umar Aminu, Siasia will be depending heavily on home based lads like Captain Azubuike Okechuwkwu, Daniel Etor, Godwin Saviour, Oghenekaro Etebo, Usman Mohammed, Taiwo Awoniyi and Junior Ajayi to get the job done in Pointe-Noire.
It will be an uphill task for the Eagles because even as the Nigerian community in Congo will surely come out in their numbers to cheer them to victory, they must be ready to face the hostile Congolese fans.
When the Super Eagles battled Congo in November last year in the same city, it was not a good experience for the teeming Nigerian fans. Although the 2-0 achieved by the Super Eagles did soothe the pains, Nigerians in the Central African country had a tough time celebrating the victory.
Super Falcons will not get a better deal in Bata but as the reigning African champions, they should be able to stand their ground.
The match billed for stadium Nkoatoma de Bata is a must win match for the Falcons. Unfortunately, the Nigerian team will not be playing at full strength. Reigning African Footballer of the Year, Asisat Oshoala is out of the match with injury.
In addition, Coach of the team, Christopher Danjuma said on Tuesday that the trio of Onome Ebi, Francesca Ordega and Josephine Chukwunonye, all foreign based players will also not be available.
Consequently, all eyes will be on Desire Oparanozie of Guingamp of France to see how she and Captain Evelyn Nwabuoka will lead the operation against Equatorial Guinea in Bata.
However, parading some tested players with Nigerian blood flowing in their veins, Equatorial Guinea will surely gave the Falcons a run for their money.
The Dream Team under Coach Austin Eguavoen did not qualify for the immediate past edition of the games in London.
Nigeria won football gold at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, USA.
Culled from: http://www.dailytrust.com.ng/weekly/index.php/sports/21285-falcons-u-23-eagles-walk-tight-rope