Edwin Okon: Biggest Crowd In Women's Football For Ages
SL10 Chat To Super Falcons Coach Edwin Okon Who Praises The Nigerian Crowd
Mali were on the receiving end of an 8-0 demolition by the nine-time African Champions in an All Africa Games Qualification second leg clash at the Abuja National Stadium, while the two sides recorded a competitive 1-1 draw in the first game in Bamako.
For coach Edwin Okon his team is coming together well but he asks the Nigerian Football Federation to organise friendlies against quality opposition to help the side improve.
SL10: Your players recorded a ruthless 8-0 result against Mali and picked a ticket to the All Africa Games. Is that a statement to your critics?
Okon: It shows we have made progress after the 1-1 draw in Bamako. We still have more work to be done to put the team in shape.
SL10: Having qualified to play in the All Africa Games, the team walloped Mali eight-nil and still missed begging chances. Don't you think that calls for concern?
Okon: We won't let the qualification get to our heads. There is a bigger assignment ahead of us, which is the World Stage. Having watched the team from close range, there is still more work to be done.
SL10: It was Evelyn Nwabuoku's second goal as a national team player. What went through your mind when she celebrated with you?
Okon: That shows she played to instruction. During dead ball practices we always told her to lurk around the area and pounce on any mistake and hit the ball. A day before the match, we emphasized on it during training. Nobody expected her to hit the ball. When Sunday Esther spotted her she quickly adjusted and riffled the ball home. It shows she played to instruction.
SL10: Asisat Oshoala, Desire Oparanozie and Francisca Ordega all netted brace each. Do we expect to always see this combination?
Okon: We are still expecting Courtney Dike and Iniabasi Umotong to be part of the attack. We will be playing them like that. For now the understanding between Oshoala, Oparanozie and Ordega is okay. When Dike and Ini come in we will see what happens. And that's why we emphasized on early arrival.
SL10: Don't you think there might be selection problem for you with the good form of the strikers at your disposal?
Okon: It's not a problem to any good coach. All I want is the best. I will give them equal opportunities to prove themselves.
SL10: If there is anything you will want the Nigeria Football Federation to do for your team to perform well. What will that be?
Okon: Organising quality friendly matches. That will put the team in shape.
SL10: The crowd got behind the girls. Any word for them?
Okon: I thank them so much for coming out to see the girls play. I haven't seen such a crowd in Nigerian women football for such a long time. And the girls gave them something to cheer with a perfect performance. We hope they continue to have faith in us and always come to cheer us to victory in our matches.
SL10: What measures have you taken to improve the defence line?
Okon: The best central defence pair is Josephine Chukwunonye/Onome Ebi. We are still trying different systems. Osinachi Ohale played as a right-back against Mali and was fully involved in one of the goals. She didn't play her usual role and still performed well. Sarah Nnodim, Blessing Edoho and Mariam Ibrahim are the other options we have at our disposal. If any player can't meet up the willing ones would take over if anyone of them doesn't meet up. If you don't work well you won't eat well.
SL10: And your message to Nigerians as regards the tasks that lies ahead?
Okon: They should continue to pray for the team. Prayers changes many things. Once they pray for the team, the Almighty father, Supreme Commander, I am that I am God is here, He is the greatest player, He plays for the Super Falcons, every match I call on Him to help He never disappoints. At the end of the day success will always be ours.