Women's Afcon: Nigeria coach Randy Waldrum backs squad to retain title

3 weeks ago 3189
Randy Waldrum on the side linesRandy Waldrum is looking to lead Nigeria to a fourth consecutive Women's Nations Cup title

Nigeria coach Randy Waldrum is confident he has the squad to retain the Women's Africa Cup of Nations later this year in Morocco.

The Super Falcons are also looking to maintain their record of having qualified to play at every Women's World Cup since it began in 1991 with the four semi-finalists at the tournament qualifying for the 2023 finals.

"I've said all along, I feel strongly about this group of players that we have," he told BBC Sport Africa.

"You know, I've had a year now to look at probably 40 or 50 different players. And I think now we've narrowed that group down and I feel very strong and comfortable about this group, I believe in them.

"So obviously, I think our chances of being champions once again is very strong. And of course, we also understand we have to be prepared properly."

The draw means that there will be a repeat of the last Women's Nations Cup final that saw Nigeria beat South Africa on penalties in Ghana in 2018.

Waldrum said that it was inevitable that the two sides would meet at some stage in the tournament.

"As far as meeting South Africa, again, I haven't really concerned myself too much with it because we know we're going to have to play good teams somewhere along the way in the tournament," he added.

"We felt all along, we would meet South Africa at some point in time. So we just have to be prepared as we will be against them this time around.

"We can't treat them any differently in terms of preparation as we do for any of the other teams in our group. We're going to have to be prepared for all three."

Morocco aim for World Cup

Morocco women's national football coach Reyald PedrosMorocco women's coach Reynald Pedros led Lyon women's team to two European Champions League titles

As for hosts Morocco they will face Senegal, Uganda as well as Burkina Faso, who will be making their debut at the finals, in Group A.

The hosts' French coach Reynald Pedros, who led Lyon to the Women's European Champions League titles in 2018 and 2019, is targeting the semi-finals which would see them qualify for the 2023 World Cup.

"For a little over a year and a half, it has been clear: it is to do well in this Women's Afcon, it is to qualify at least for the semi-finals, to go to the World Cup," Pedros said after Friday's draw.

"If we are in the semi-finals, if we are lucky enough to be there, everything will be possible.

"But now, we are focusing on our group - we're going to start working a little more in depth with the staff to look at these teams.

"Do not forget that Morocco are playing their first Women's Afcon so it also creates additional emotions."

Group B will feature Cameroon Zambia, Tunisia and Togo, the other nation making their debut at the Women's Nations Cup.

The 2020 edition of the Women's Nations Cup was cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic. This year will be the first time the finals, which have been expanded from eight to 12 teams, will be held in North Africa.

Source Article