Former international, Mutiu Adepoju, in this interview with CHARLES OGUNDIYA said the Super Falcons must prepare well to excel at the Women World Cup. Excerpts:
The NFF Annual General Assembly took place on Thursday in Lagos and the date for the new election was announced, September 30; what do you expect from the election?
We should be optimistic regarding what is coming. What has gone has gone and we don’t have to dwell on it. There have been good and bad times but we should try and forge ahead. All I want is for the best man to win and take our football to the level we are looking forward to.
The Falconets secured a quarterfinal berth at the ongoing FIFA U-20 Women World Cup in Costa Rica, what’s your take on their performance?
I think the team is doing very well and the coaches are doing well. It has to do with the clubs, the leagues they are playing and all that. La Liga is a partner with the women league and most of these players are playing back home here in Nigeria, the only thing that La Liga can do is to continue to support the league and we are doing that. If things continue well, we hope to see them win the trophy.
They will be meeting Netherland in the quarters; do you see them winning?
Yes. They have been able to defeat France, South Korea and Canada. Anything can happen, they can do anything based on the level of confidence that they have now and I pray they win.
What would you be your take on the coach, Chris Danjuma?
He is an experienced coach and he has been with the players for so long. He has the experience of coaching the team. I think he has what it takes to take them to the title in Costa Rica.
The Super Falcons failed to impress at the last WAFCON, what do you think they need to do ahead of the World Cup?
They should prepare very well and take players that are really capable. They should just prepare and make use of the best players.
There was a rumour about having a 24-team league, what is your take on this?
We have not managed the 20- team league effectively and we are proposing a 24-team league. I don’t know how it is going to be done but in my own opinion, I think 20 is enough. Why add more when there are no sponsors, the league is not on television, you are not doing what you are supposed to do and you want to go to 24-team league. I don’t think it’s reasonable.
At the moment, we have players in the English Premier League and the La Liga, what do you think this will add to the national team?
Well, it is always good for players to play in the top leagues across the world, it will help the national team and we have seen it over the years. The more our players play in good leagues and better clubs, the better for us. During our time, it was like that; we had players playing in Spain, Italy, Belgium, England France and the rest, which really helped the national team. So, I will say it is a good thing for us.
With Nigeria not playing at the World Cup and the 2023 AFCON already postponed, how do you think the team should stay competitive?
The players are already in their clubs. I think they should continue playing in their clubs while the NFF figures out how the team can be competitive. There must be proper planning from now and let’s see how the team can be as strong as it should be. The players are playing for their various clubs and doing well at that; the important thing is to find a way of striking a balance and see how they can replicate their performance at club level when they get back home. Anything done without appropriate and good planning won’t work.
The Super Eagles B team are currently preparing to face Ghana in the Algeria 2023 CHAN qualifier,same country stopped Nigeria from going to the World Cup, could you advice on any approach?
There is no special approach than planning and preparing very well. I believe we can beat them if they can beat us too and I’m sure they are going to do that this time around.
What would you say about the current La Liga League that started a weekend ago?
So far it has been interesting and it promises to be an interesting season. The clubs are very ready and they have been showing this right from the first game of the season.
Barcelona drew their first game; do you think they will be a force to reckon with especially with their financial crisis?
I’m sure they are going to get over it. It is an off thing for them but they are a big club and they will get over these things.
How soon do we see the La Liga/NPFL U-15 competition again after the last edition?
We always do it in April and it’s going to happen again during the same period next year because the school children are always on holiday during that period and they are the reason for the competition.
How do you want to bridge the gap between some of the clubs with the coming of La Liga?
One of the things we are doing is to bridge the gap between La Liga and we are bringing them closer. If any club is interested, we will link them. The clubs that have joined are really enjoying the partnership.
Let’s talk about Shooting Stars, the team escaped relegation on the final day and they have let go of some of their players including the coaches, do you think they can compete during the coming campaign?
I think their new coach, Gbenga Ogunbote, is a really good coach and he knows what to do. He just needs players that are good and will put in all their best. I don’t see them having any problems like they did in the last season.
You played in the La Liga, how do you think the NPFL can get to the same level?
It’s a gradual process and something that we are supposed to have started a long time ago but along the line things went wrong and things are not moving well. I believe that rebranding the league is good. Firstly, the league must be on the television because that has been the major setback affecting the league.
La Liga is also partner to the NPFL, what is the league doing to help especially in terms of experience?
Well one has to ask the people that are in charge. The La Liga president made it clear that he would support the NPFL with whatever they need and he has been doing that. Why nothing has changed? I don’t know. We need to ask the people in charge and I believe that with La Liga growing every day there is need for all our partners to continue growing. To grow the league, something has to be done on the part of the people and all that. If that is not happening, it’s not La Liga’s fault or anything.