Nigeria senior women’s coach Thomas Dennerby says playing international friendlies are ‘extremely important’ for his ladies ahead of this year’s Africa Women’s Cup of Nations.
The 59-year-old led the Super Falcons to a third-place finish at the WAFU Cup in February before steering them to qualify for the 11th edition, having thrashed Gambia 7-0 on aggregate in June.
And for the eight-nation tournament, the Swedish tactician is proposing some warm-up games in the bid to ensure his team are in competitive shape to defend the title they won two years ago.
“It is time to sort out everything about our camps in preparation for the Africa Women’s Cup of Nations in November,” Dennerby told reporters in Abuja on Monday.
“I have a schedule for the team [Nigeria]. Now is the time to seal agreements with other countries worldwide for the FIFA international windows. It is extremely important for us to have friendlies. Now it is two open windows - first starts on August 27 to September 4 and next is October 1-9.
“Unfortunately we couldn’t use the window that opened today because of the issues recently. From September 4, we will know [seven] teams that will qualify for the World Cup in Europe. But we still have another window from November 3.
“We have opportunities to have long camp now before the Nations Cup and that’s the biggest reason why we must try to sort out the camping arrangements for the team now. I’ve been talking to a lot of the teams and they are interested in playing us.
“We have a lot of teams to play but I don’t have the final say on this than to present my suggestions. This is why I am here to discuss with the NFF secretary general, the technical department and board members too.”
He further expressed concerns about the team’s poor show at Cameroon 2016 despite the nation’s success, stressing that only better preparations will prevent Nigeria from recording the worse.
“I saw all the [Nigeria] games at the last Africa Cup of Nations. We played 1-1 against Ghana but they were a bit better against us in the group stage. Same situation against South Africa in the semi-final and Cameroon in the final,” he continued.
“Though we won those matches, I still think our opponents were slightly better. We cannot continue to rely on our previous success when the game is evolving. We need to acknowledge the fact that other teams are fighting hard to catch up with us and must not leave anything to chance.
“Even If we’ve won the tournament ten times, it really doesn’t matter as no tournament is the same. It won’t be a good thing if we fail to qualify for the World Cup. The most important thing now is to start camping and play friendlies in other not to have the regrets of not preparing enough.”