India 2022: Coach Bankole Olowookere optimistic over Flamingos’ chances

By Femi Kasali

Coach Bankole Olowookere is optimistic that the Flamingoes of Nigeria will soar higher at the FIFA Women Under-17 World Cup in India.

The 2022 FIFA Under-17 World Cup Draw held at the FIFA Headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland, Flamingoes grouped alongside Football Powerhouses, Germany, New Zealand and Chile in Group B.

Soccer fans and enthusiasts are jittery, putting into consideration of the teams the Nigerian Female Under-17 will trade tackles with at the global showpiece.

But Coach Olowookere is confident that his tutored Girls will do the nation proud at the tournament.

Bankole said that all the Team needs is to strategise and plan with the technical team ahead of the World Cup in India.

“It is not too early to start preparation and planning ahead of the World Cup. They (technical department) have always been impacting their knowledge to us.

“They are my father; they had a lot of experience that I need to tap from it,” he said.

He added the team’s success was a joint work of the entire team and the Nigeria Football Federation, NFF, and this will intensify as his Team now know their opponents at the competition.

“This is national work. It’s teamwork. We have to work together – the coaches, the players, the entire team, as well as the entire body of the NFF”.

Our priority and our next assignment is to make sure that Nigeria does well at the World Cup,” he said.

The coach commended the team for making the country proud over their counterparts.

“The victory is not for us but to make the country proud, it was a tough journey up till now; we give God all the glory for the success,” he said.

He said Ethiopia was one of the fittest teams he had ever met on this journey.

“The second match was a tough one, we knew that they lost at home and they are coming to Nigeria for revenge.

“We decided not to give a chance to score, they are one of the fittest teams I have ever played in my life,” Olowookere said.

The Nigerian girls had a brilliant run in the qualification series for the competition. They overcame Egypt, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Ethiopia en route to the tournament.

They scored 15 goals and conceded none in the process with Opeyemi Ajakaye striking six times as Nigeria sealed a ticket to India.

Africa’s other representatives, Tanzania and Morocco are in Group D and A respectively.

Morocco will also battle hosts India, the USA, and Brazil in the same group while Japan, Canada, and France complete Tanzania’s group.

The competition will run from 11th to 30th October. It was supposed to hold in 2020 but was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Spain won the last edition in 2018. They are grouped alongside Colombia, Mexico, and China.

Below are the groups and teams for the U-17 Women’s World Cup 2022:

Group A: India, USA, Morocco, Brazil

Group B: Germany, Nigeria, New Zealand, Chile

Group C: Spain, Colombia, Mexico, China

Group D: Japan, Tanzania, Canada, France