Nickname: Super Falcons
Previous appearances: 1998, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2010, 2012, 2014, 2016
Honours: 8 titles (1998, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2010, 2014, 2016)
Road to the finals: Defeated Gambia (1-0, 6-0)
After winning eight out of the last 10 last editions of the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations, the Super Falcons of Nigeria are undeniably the favourites as the 11th edition beckons.
But the Super Falcons’ trainer, Thomas Dennerby, said he was not unaware about what lies in store despite the rich pedigree of the West Africans as the most successful team in the history of the biennial championship.
Of course I know all about the history of the Super Falcons, the 59-year-old who featured as a midfielder for Hammarby IF and Sparvagens IF in his heydays in his native Sweden, told CAFOnline.com.
I want us to be one of the best teams in Africa but I’m also aware that women’s football is undergoing strong development in Africa. Many countries are putting in a lot of efforts to develop their national teams.
To consolidate our position we need to bring the squad together on a regular basis and my mission is to come closer to the best teams in the world, he noted.
Yet, in his first match in charge of the team, the Super Falcons were thrashed 8-0 by France in an international friendly in Le Mans last April but they showed their near invincibility on the continent with a 7-0 spanking of Gambia over two legs to secure berth for the defence of their title in Ghana.
Our defending against Gambia was outstanding because they had only one scoring chance against us over the two games which was very, very good (for us). The team really worked hard to stay compact and follow the match plan.
Our attacking play was also good. We’ve had more than 15 attempts in each game. The difference between the first leg and the second leg was that we were sharper when finishing in the second leg.
Nevertheless , Dennerby has called up no fewer than 14 of the Class of 2016 where the Falcons beat hosts Cameroon 1-0 in the final to win a record extending eighth title.
In his 48-named provisional squad were 29 home-based and 18 foreign-based players for their pre- Ghana 2018 camping at the pristine Jubilee Chalets located in Epe suburb of Lagos State which was described by Dennerby as ideal ‘because we needed maximum concentration for at least two weeks for intensive tactical training to have a successful outing in Ghana .
Apart from the quality of talents at his disposal, the Swede trainer is experienced enough after managing Sweden women’s national team for almost seven years with some appreciable successes at the FIFA World Cup, European Women’s Championship as well as the Olympic Games.
In the Super Falcons’ mix is current and three-time African Women’s Player of the Year, Asisat Oshoala as well as other experienced players including defender Ngozi Ebere, Osinachi Ohale as well as striking duo of Francisca Ordega and Esther Sunday.
The squad is a mixture of experienced hands including the likes of Ngozi Ebere, Faith Michael and Onome Ebi that had all been part of the team’s success in the past; while the youngsters would be pulled from the experimental side that finished in third position without conceding defeat over 90 minutes in five matches during the maiden WAFU Women’s Nations Cup in Abidjan in April.
With core of their players in place for Ghana 2018, there is the likelihood that the Super Falcons might nick the title yet again despite stiff challenge from their perennial rivals in the mould of South Africa, Cameroon and host Ghana.
Source: Confederation Africaine de Football