BY BIBIAN ONWUGBOLU.
Maureen Nkeiruka Mmadu is a Nigerian football coach and former midfielder of the Super Falcons. As a player she most recently represented Avaldsnes IL, a First Division team based on Norway’s west coast.
She played for several other teams in Norway’s Toppserien as well for Linköpings FC and QBIK in the Swedish Damallsvenskan. She bares her mind on she intend to achieve her dream with her current job in the National team.
How do you feel been part of the Super Falcons’ technical crew and working under Coach Thomas Dennerby?
I feel very happy been part of the new Super Falcons’ technical crew under Thomas. It is good honour to me because it is a dream come through. Although it would have come earlier than now but my work abroad did not allow it but I thank God it finally happened.
How did your appointment emerge?
I was invited by the Nigeria Football Federation Technical committee for interview for the job of an assistant coach with other four male coaches who are based here in Nigeria. I became the lucky one to secure the job at the end.
Been part of the during the AWC in Ghana, how best can you access the Super Falcons performance?
(Laugh) Well I must say a big kudos to the Super Falcons because they really played and fought like lionesses. The players did very well. They never lost hope after losing their first match against Bayana Bayana. They went ahead to win every other game to be the champions again. The fighting spirit was high and still high as we are in camp preparing for other tournaments ahead.
The World Cup is fast approaching, how prepared is the team?
We are on the process of the presentation as you can see the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) has registered the team for the four-nation tournament scheduled for China from January 17 to 25. We are not just going in China for a jamboree, but to also use it as part of our preparation for the World Cup in France this year. This is to show you that NFF really want to change the face of female football in the country and this is one step too many for us and I must say I am impressed with the development.
Don’t forget Chinese Football is fast developing and I strongly believe Nigeria will benefit if they tap from it. We want to test every regional style of soccer to improve our girls for the task ahead of them.
African teams must register their names in the forth coming world Cup starting with the Falcons. Days are gone when the trophy or first three goes to European countries but this year will make a different because it is going to be battle when the tournament kicks off in June.
Any hope for domestic players to make it to France World Cup ?
Right now the camp is open for every Nigerian both domestic and the players abroad. According to the Head Coach Dennerby, he want to pick the best that can give everything in the field of play to represent Nigeria any where in the World. Don’t forget we have few in camp with us now.
Don’t forget we still have over 10 friendly matches lined for us by NFF before the World Cup. So we will gradually picking players till we get the best. After the four-nation tournament in China which we strictly invited players, we are going to have an open camp early enough to do few selections before we move into close camping.
NFF has lined over 10 friendly matches for the girls. Do you think it will be enough to prepare the team before the World Cup?
(Smile) I have to thank NFF for this kind of surprise because this is the first time they are giving us these huge games to prepare us for the world cup. All my life as a player in the Super Falcons till retire, we have never had this kind of friendly matches. I must say a very big thank you to Amaju Pinnick and the current board for their effort in bring light into female national team, kudos to them.
Thomas Dennerby is not in camp here in Nigeria with the team, leaving you with a big responsibility, how are you handling the girls as the assistant?
The most important thing here is that we follow and work with every of his programs to bring out good result at the end. Dennerby understands African system of football together with few of us in the team and that alone gave him the victory in Ghana.
Dennerby is a nice and very good coach. He is like a father to all the players. He wants the best for the player and the nation too. He really wants us to always give our best in everything we do. I have learnt a lot from him, though I have work with other white coaches abroad, but he is exceptional, very ambition, very workaholic, he wants us to be on our toes every time, to make things work.
Again the players are happy with you, success is sure and here in camp they player unity and understanding is massive and unshakeable. They give their best in training knowing that there is no automatic shirt for anyone.
What is your biggest challenge so far since you joined the Super Falcons?
There must be challenges when you are in a new environment. The most important thing is how to handle those challenges. My biggest challenge so far is in selection of players because Nigeria has a lot of talented players that one gets confused in picking the best for a particular competition.
But I must say I am adapting, we have quality technical crew that works together as a team to make sure we get the best.
Who are the new invited players in the team?
There are two invited players in camp – Alice Ogebe and Ugochi Emanayo. Apart from the ones that went with us to Ghana but we hope to look at more players when we return from China for other games we will play.
How can you rate the Super Falcons in Africa, in terms of discipline, tactical, skills?
The current squad in the Super Falcons are good. The legacy we left long before now is still there despite what we went through during my time in the national team and now.
I think these current players are enjoying the fruit of our labour. We lay the foundation for them in the World especially African football. Super Falcons are respected anywhere in the world today. Many countries in Africa are scared of them because of the foundation we lay in the past.
During my time in the national team most parents don’t allow their daughters to engage in football but today every family want her female child to play soccer.
Super Falcons remain the best in Africa following their record. They only need more confident and also to be more professional, do your job 150 per cent and give the best every time no matter what, because you don’t know who is watching you on the side lines.
I see them as one of the team that will shock the World in France come June. If there will be an African team to reach the top three or four, it will be the Super Falcons because the spirit and zeal are high towards it.