Female national team, Super Falcons’ assistant coach, Maureen Mmadu has expressed satisfaction that the return of Asisat Oshoala and Desire Oparanozie to the squad will boost their chances of doing well at the 2019 Cyprus Women’s Cup.
Ahead of the Falcons’ opening match against Austria on Wednesday, Mmadu enthused that the Nigerian squad will be stronger this time out than they were at a similar competition in China last month, when both players were not available.
Mmadu noted further that the competition, which will end on March 6 in the Southern coastal city of Larnaca, is a credible preparation point for the Falcons, towards this year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup in France.
For the Female Mundial this summer, the Falcons who will be making a joint-record eight appearance at France 2019, where Mmadu says their target will be to get a better outing than the quarter-finals slot achieved only once, back at USA 1999.
The African champions are drawn along with hosts France, South Korea and Norway in Group A for the eighth edition of the World Cup, from 7th June to 7th July, and Mmadu says doing well at the 12-nation invitational tournament in Cyprus would be a good dress rehearsal for France 2019.
In Cyprus, Nigeria will be joined by three other France-bound teams – Italy, South Africa and Thailand, alongside Cyprus, Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Finland, Hungary, North Korea, Mexico and Slovakia.
Drawn in Group C, the Falcons will open their account at the Cyprus Cup versus Austria on 27 February to be followed against Slovakia on Friday, March 1 and then with Belgium three days later.
Mmadu, who played at the global showpiece in the 1995, 1999 2003 and 2007 editions, enthused that going to Cyprus has accorded the Falcons another phase of top-level preparations towards the Female Mundial.
She added: “This tournament in Cyprus is another opportunity to have a look at the players that we are likely to take to the World Cup in France.
“I believe we are going to improve very well as we build up towards the World Cup in France.
“I can say that our preparation towards the World Cup is well on course. Our preparation for the World Cup in France is going well.
“This tournament in Cyprus would give us the chance to look at the players again.
“The inclusion of Asisat Oshoala and Desire Oparanozie is a big boost. They were not available when we played at the China tournament.”