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AWC: Super Falcons no Longer Strongest Team – Mabo

AWC: Falcons no Longer Strongest Team – Mabo

Former Super Falcons coach, Ismaila Mabo, has warned the team against overconfidence when they face hosts Namibia, Ivory Coast and Zambia in Group A of the 2014 African Women’s Championship in Namibia from October 11-25.

According to Saturday’s draw in Windhoek, South Africa will face Cameroon, Ghana and Algeria in Group B of the tournament.

The top three teams at the tournament will represent Africa at the FIFA Women’s World Cup in Canada next year.

However, eight-time African champions Falcons will begin camping for the championship in August and Mabo believes only the best players should make the final selection by coach Edwin Okon.

“Women’s football in Africa has become tougher than it used to be, there are no small teams again. The Falcons are no longer the strongest team in Africa. The best team is decided on how well they prepare before the tournament,” Mabo told our correspondent on the telephone on Sunday.

“Namibia and Zambia may look easy on paper, but they’re not. The hosts will not want to lose at home, and Zambia are also coming up in women’s football. Ivory Coast are West Africans, and they’re no different from the likes of Ghana .

“In the past, Nigeria was able to dominate because we prepared well for the championships, but now we’re not the only ones gearing up for the title. Every team in Africa is now putting more efforts into their preparation and ready to put up fights to be at the World Cup.”

Mabo said the transition in the team would not have a negative influence on the players if they had enough friendly games to improve blending of new and experienced players.

“The exit of the former players will have little effect on the team if the current players can play as a unit. It’s natural for the players to feel less motivated when big names leave their midst, but when they play together in friendly matches they’ll know one another better,” Mabo said, making reference to the exit of striker Perpetua Nkwocha from the Falcons.

Nigeria have only failed twice to hold on to the title – in 2008 and 2012.

Meanwhile, the coaches of Ivory Coast and Namibia believe Nigeria have the advantage.

Ivory Coast coach Clementine Toure said on CAF website, “Group A is balanced; there are two debutants (Zambia and Namibia) which makes the pairing dicey. We have a young team and are still learning. This tournament will be another experience and learning curve for my team. Every team is here to win the trophy but our approach will be one game at a time.”

Namibia coach Jacqueline Shipanga said her team would be learning from the tournament.

“We have been paired in a very tough group, especially if you are to face Nigeria and Ivory Coast, who eliminated holders Equatorial Guinea during the qualifiers. Zambia are in the same situation as Namibia – being first timers. Looking at it, it is a group of death. From now, we want to engage stronger teams to get better. Namibia have one of the youngest teams but the girls are extremely determined and confident to do well.”

Source: Punch

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