By Oyediji Oluwaseun Babatunde
Ahead of the 2024 FIFA Women’s U-20 World Cup Qualifiers return leg between Nigeria and Tanzania in Abuja, country’s head coach Christopher Danjuma insists qualification for the next year’s tournament is paramount.
The Falconets will go up against their Tanzanian counterparts in a 2024 FIFA U20 Women’s World Cup African qualifying series second round, second leg encounter at the MKO Abiola National Stadium on Sunday.
Both teams battled to a one-goal draw in the first leg match played at the Azam Sports Complex in Tanzania’s commercial and industrial capital, Dar es Salaam on Sunday last week, with substitute Chioma Olise putting Nigeria in front in the 57th minute before Asnath Unamba equalised for the host.
“Qualifying for the World Cup is paramount,” Danjuma told NigeriaFootball.ng
“There is no excuse for it. The coming out on Sunday is to make sure nothing stops us from going to Colombia.”
Danjuma who guided the team to the quarter-final of the U-20 Women’s World Cup last year asserted that the team will come out stronger having learned from the experience of the first leg.
“It is a normal thing in football to take your chances when they come especially when the opponent is scared of you before they are able to recover.” he continued.
“Honestly speaking, in the first leg the Tanzanians did their best but it wasn’t as if we were like 50/50 or little bit under pressure. One slip in a match and that’s the end. That was when we conceded a goal through that free kick. To say they were all over us wasn’t the case.
“When you play against somebody that has respect for you and you waste your points without being suppressed as expected then he comes out confidently.
“Secondly, we are not making excuses but almost five or six or their players are at the CAF Women’s Champions League playing for JKT Queens which helped them when they returned to the team. They played even till November 8 and played some matches before coming which was continuous thing for them.
“This is coaching and a development side. These are a crop of new players trying to experience this stage. The U-17 stage is appreciable but it is a different ball game in the U-20 and the Super Falcons.
“The awareness and level of competitiveness because they beginning to get the feel of it and understand that you need openings that are ready for you to go to the senior team of the country.
“The teaching and impaction on the players. What we are doing now is making sure in every competition and match we are progressing. I am very sure with the experience we had in Tanzania, they are going to really hold their own on Sunday.”
The Nasarawa Amazons coach has a message for the fans ahead of Sunday’s clash.
“The drive is to qualify for the World Cup.” He added. “Let our concentration be on Tanzania.
“My message to Nigerians is we really appreciate them from years back coming back to this point they have always supported the U-20 team. We want them to come with the same expectations powerfully and believing that they will leave the stadium very happy.”
The winner of the two-legged tie on aggregate will face Burundi in the final qualifying round for a place at the 2024 FIFA Women’s U-20 World Cup.