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Nigeria: Falcons Wary of Côte d’Ivoire Threat, Says Waldrum

AWCON QUALIFIERS

Nigeria women’s coach Randy Waldrum has admitted knowledge of Cote d’Ivoire’s strength ahead of the final qualifying round for this year’s Women’s Africa Cup of Nations in Morocco as his side are preparing for today’s first leg game in Abuja.

The Super Falcons are eyeing a 12th consecutive appearance at this year’s continental showpiece but must avoid another upset against the Elephants of Cote d’Ivoire, who dumped them out of Tokyo 2020 Olympic qualifier in 2019.

Since 2015, the Nigerians are yet to record an outright win in the last five meetings with the Ivorians, but the American tactician is unperturbed as he is motivated by his team’s mood and depth ahead of their first leg this week.

“The spirit in the camp is very high and positive. The players have been looking forward to these matches for some time now and their professionalism has been fantastic,” Waldrum told CAFOnline.com.

“I think we have a good understanding of Cote d’Ivoire and their current side. I’m not big on past history as that is why they call it history. The previous matches have no bearing on this one.

“We recognize the strengths of our opponents and will be prepared for that. Obviously, it’s vitally important to our goals of achieving another FIFA Women’s World Cup berth. Playing the first match at home is important as well to get on the front foot in everything we do.”

Nigeria’s only triumph over the Ivorians in the last five ties came via a penalty shootout after Uchenna Kanu’s late finish cancelled Ange N’Guessan’s opener in the 2019 WAFU Cup final in Abidjan.

Clementine Toure will be banking on the experience of former Barcelona and Tenerife star N’Guessan, while Waldrum is looking up to his array of talents to snatch the vital WAFCON ticket.

Nigeria will be at home in the first leg against the Ivorians at the MKO Abiola National Stadium Abuja this evening before travelling for the decisive return leg in Abidjan on February 23.



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