In his initial 35 woman list, Coach Bankole has already taken a different path from his counterpart in Under 20 Falconets coach Danjuma.
The list harbours no less than 4 foreign based players and other homebased ones who didn't play any part in the qualifiers. This augurs well for the potential depth of skills and talents that the final world cup squad would encompass.
The foreign based players are:
- Strikers: Daniella Alali (LA Galaxy, USA); Tolulope Adubairo (Arsenal Women, England).
- Midfielder: Altima Alasse (IFK Goteborg, Sweden).
- Goalkeeper: Comfort Erhabor (UK-based).
These inclusions suggest to me that Coach Bankole has made the key distinctions between the demands of qualifiers and the technical challenges of tournament football leading to him casting his net farther and wider.
Also, some of those foreign based players might serve as embryos for future Super Falcons squad. Perhaps one of Danjuma's shortcomings was the over-reliance on the same players who prosecuted the Under 20 world cup qualifiers.
Bankole is doing things differently here and I hope it pays off.
Like the Falconets, Bankole's Flamingos bastardised all oppositions on the continent in qualifying for this tournament. The likes of Ethiopia, Egypt and Congo DR were all put to the sword. In October, Bankole's babes will have to do it all again on the world stage.
Unlike the Falconets who have attained 2 podium finishes in the Under 20 women's world cup, the Flamingos are yet to attain such a milestone. In fact, they remain the only ones in Nigeria's age grade national team set up yet to win any medals - gold, silver or bronze - for Nigeria.
Bankole and his girls will hope to right this wrong in India by doing things slightly differently. And, by drawing on a wider pool of players to pick from to prosecute the tournament, he is threading on interesting grounds.
Hopefully the NFF will line up quality friendlies for the team ahead of the tournament. Bankole should then whittle down the list to a killer squad of brutal female warriors.
All Nigeria stakeholders are rooting for the team to succeed so that one of our national teams can help fans to end the year on a bouyant note.
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