President of the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) Amaju Melvin Pinnick says preparations for the 2019 FIFA Women World Cup has already started after the “priceless” Super Falcons secured a berth at the global football showpiece by defeating Cameroun in the semi-final of the 2018 Women African Cup of Nations in Ghana.
Pinnick said this when he visited the players and officials at the AH and Conference Hotel Accra on Thursday as he also congratulated the players for the “resilient, resurgent and very strong” spirit exhibited by the team in overcoming the Indomitable Lionesses of Cameroon on penalties and also commending “one of the best coaches in the world” Thomas Dennerby.
Pinnick who also doubles as the 1st Vice President of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) acknowledged and apologised for the less than ideal preparations the team had in the lead up to the Nations Cup in Ghana, whilst also assuring that the team that would get “a better preparation than the Super Eagles going to the World Cup”.
“We are indeed very delighted about what you have been able to achieve so far,” Pinnick said.
“On our part as the NFF, I would want to apologise for some inadequacies that was observed before your coming to Ghana it was nothing intentional. We were going through a lot as a Federation but Super Falcons has become an asset that is so priceless to us and it is on that basis that we went to get one of the best coaches in the world [Thomas Dennerby].
“We believe that now that we have qualified for the World Cup, preparation starts today, and just after the tournament I am going to sit with your Coach and within the next ten days I am sure I would give approvals for every programme leading to the World Cup and we are going to work religiously and assiduously towards achieving that.
“Trust me we are going to give you a better preparation than the Super Eagles going to the World Cup.”
The senior men national team the Super Eagles played five friendly matches against Congo DRC, Poland, Serbia, England and the Czech Republic in the lead up to the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia while the Falcons played just six matches between 2016 and the start of the 2018 AWCON.
By defeating Cameroun, the Super Falcons kept alive their enviable record of being one of only seven nations to have been at every edition of the World Cup since its inception in 1991 alongside Brazil, Germany, Japan, USA, Norway and Sweden. The Falcons have, however, only made it out of the group stages once in that time in 1999 and it is a record that Pinnick believes this present crop can match at the very least.
“We believe you can go beyond the quarter-finals,” he said, “forget about what happened in France [the Falcons were beaten 8-0 in a friendly with France in April], in Nigeria we never say never we are always very resilient, very resurgent and we are always very strong and that is what you guys demonstrated against Cameroun. You demonstrated the spirit of Naija and that’s how we won.”
Pinnick also described Falcons head coach Thomas Dennerby as “exceptional” for his capacity to “take a lot” and pledged to make Swede “happy” as well as ensuring that Dennerby’s plans for the World Cup are swiftly approved.
“The coach has been exceptional,” said Pinnick, “he has taken a lot as a coach, we have to make him happy to make him have the right frame of mind so that he can work with you guys.”
“I’ve taken it upon myself as the President in ensuring I’ll sit with him first to make sure all his demands are met and again in ensuring every programme he said he will submit for the World Cup, I’ll get it approved within the next ten days so let us work and ensure that we go to France, not as spectators but make a very prominent presence in France.”