Rasheedat Ajibade says Nigeria have a burning desire to write their name in history and tips a 2-1 win against England on Monday.
- Claims the Super Falcons will create history
- Predicts a 2-1 win for her nation
- Says this is ‘Nigeria’s time’
Rasheedat Ajibade isn’t listening to the outside noise; to those voices that suggest a star-studded England will brush Nigeria aside, that the ranking gap from the fourth-placed European champions to the Super Falcons down at 40 will be too much for her nation to overcome.
Instead, she’s bullish on Nigeria’s hopes and full of belief that they, not England, can dictate the way the match unfolds, as she tells FIFA.
“We’ve seen a lot of surprises in this World Cup, it’s not about the name, it’s not about the players, it’s not about all of those things.
“Honestly, I respect every player on the England team but we have a lot of quality on our team and a lot of talent that poses threats. I’m focussed on what we can do as a team and not what England want to do and at the end of the day it boils down to what we will do on the field.”
So deep does that confidence and belief run that the 23-year-old forward didn’t evade questions about how the match may unfold – as many players often do – and rather confidently asserted how she sees things finishing in Brisbane.
“Nigeria two, England one.”
Having been suspended for the Super Falcons opener against Canada, Ajibade returned and played a key role in both the 3-2 win over Australia and the scoreless draw with Republic of Ireland that secured Nigeria’s passage to the Round of 16.
Some players may have celebrated the achievement of progressing from the group stage for just the third time in their nation’s history but not so Ajibade who is insistent that the pen which will write their history has yet to be picked up.
“It’s my second time qualifying from the group so it’s not new and it’s all about doing something new this time.
“I have a feeling it’s our time and we will make history. We’ve qualified for the Round of 16 in the past so that’s not history.
“Now we have to do something new and historical and we want to write our names in history, we have individual goals and collective goals and want to make sure we do something different so that we can lay a standard for those that are coming behind.”
On the pitch, Ajibade is hard to miss with the shock of blue that runs through her hair and off it she’s just as clear in her assertion as to what drives the motivation behind her team’s success.
“We’re playing for passion, we’re playing for the young kids out there, playing for our friends and families.
“Any time I have the opportunity to be called to the national team it’s a privilege for me and an honour that I would never take for granted. Playing on the biggest stage of football is a dream come true for me because there are a lot of talented young Nigerian players that could be on the squad and amidst millions of football players, I was one of those that were called up.
“Everything I’ve been training for and working for, this is it. The sleepless nights, the hard work, the injuries, the mental part that I’ve been working on, this is what I’ve been doing it for.”
As for who may score the winning goal in that victory she’s foreseen, Ajibade is less clear but if her confidence and belief rubs off on the rest of the squad then England will clearly have a real battle on their hands on Monday afternoon.
“I don’t care who scores the goal! It’s not about individual goals for me, I might score a goal and we might not win so I just want to make it to the quarter-final….unless you say I can score the winning goal!”