Ex-international Gift Okunwa believes that Nigeriaâ€™s Super Falcons are the team toÂ beat at this yearâ€™s Afican Women Championship, AWC which kicks off on Sunday inÂ South Africa.
Satisfied with Falconsâ€™ 21-man list for the biennial football fiesta, Okunwa toldÂ SuperSport.com in Lagos that the mixture of old and young players is a wise choiceÂ that will see the five-time African champion excel.
â€œThe 21-man list is good, it is a combination of the Under-17, Under-20, a few ofÂ them that were at the recent Fifa World Cup and the Super Falcons players.
â€œOf course, when you talk of AWC age and experience come into play, you cannot takeÂ it away from the older players who are more experienced and exposed.â€
The former U-20 player said over confidence robbed the Falcons of victory inÂ Equatorial Guinea two years ago. She explained to SuperSport.com that the incumbentÂ coach being the first women coach to lead Falcons to AWC will correct that mistakeÂ and bring the trophy back home.
â€œI am sure it was over confidence that caused Falconsâ€™ the title and it will notÂ repeat itself again. They underrated their opponents and beforeÂ they knew it,Â Equatorial Guinea have won the title.
â€œEucharia will never want a repeat; she is a wonderful thing happening to womenÂ football in Nigeria, the first women coach to lead Falcons to AWC. I am confidentÂ she will come back home victorious.
â€œThere is unity among the players and the coaching crew that is the tonic to excel.â€
On the impact of the absentee professionals on the teamâ€™s title quest and countriesÂ that will pose hard nuts to crack, Okunwa said time of minnows in African footballÂ has gone, and however predicted a final clash between the Falcons and Black QueensÂ of Ghana.
â€œAfrican women football has grown, it is almost impossible to make accurateÂ prediction because every country now is eager to come out victorious but I am sureÂ Nigeria will play in the final possibly against Ghana.
â€œIkidi, Uwak and Sarah Michael would be missed but not much because the young onesÂ in the team are equal to the task. You cannot remove experience though but they willÂ cope,â€ she said.
Super Falcons were expected to arrive South Africa for their first match againstÂ Mali on 1 November before they play rivals South Africa and new comers Tanzania on 7Â November.
The other group has title holders Equatorial Guinea, Ghana, Cameroun and Algeria.
Top two teams in each group will qualify for the semifinal, while the finalistsÂ qualify automatically for the Fifa World Cup in Germany next year.