India 2022: Team Nigeria heads to Turkey for World Cup Preparation
Nigeria’s Flamingos are in Kocaeli, Turkey for training camp in the build-up to India’s 2022 FIFA U17 Women’s World Cup which is scheduled to hold from October 11 to 30.
The Flamingos are back into the global women’s youth event after they missed out on the 2018 edition and are drawn against Germany, New Zealand and Chile in Group B for the group stage.
The Flamingos safely arrived Istanbul before connecting to Kocaeli and had since settled down at Dedeman Hotel to continue their preparations.
With two weeks to the tournament’s kick-off, Flamingos Coach, Bankole Olowookere expressed his excitement about the value of camping in Turkey and his team’s chances in India.
“We’ve done a lot to cover some gaps that were spotted during the African qualifiers. We’ve also been able to work up to the international standard, going to the World Cup, which is different from playing in the qualifiers. We just try to raise our game,” said Olowookere, who also handles Nigerian side Naija Ratels.
“We’ve also kept our fitness and fixed everything needed for the girls to be in shape for the World Cup.
“Camping in Turkey isn’t just going to be a jamboree, we will have to acclimatize and probably have some friendly matches to tune up the team, just to ensure it is nothing short of international standard”.
After three weeks of intensive training in Abuja, Olowookere, has selected a 21-final squad from the invited provisional list of 35.
Expectedly, captain Alvine Dah-Zossu, Taiwo Afolabi and top scorer Opeyemi Ajakaye made the final list alongside goalkeeper Faith Omilana, Comfort Folorunsho, Blessing Emmanuel and Omowunmi Bello, who all featured in the qualifiers.
Reviewing his final squad selection, the Flamingos coach said: “Talking about selection, understand that I’m a grassroot coach and I have numbers of them training with me, I know their mentality, the kind of quality players I’ll need.
“I have been able to do this, with my technical crew, working tirelessly to have the right selection. We need to excel for the nation and ourselves, and with the assistance of the technical crew, we’re eager to get it right.”
The West Africans are yet to progress past the quarterfinal stage in five attempts – a jinx Olowookere is seeking to break this time in South Asian country.
Nigeria will represent Africa along with the debutante duo of Tanzania and Morocco and are expected to spend 10 days in Turkey before jetting off to India from Istanbul on October 6.
CAF ONLINE/Temitope Obisesan