According to the Super Falcons coach, Edwin Okon, his team will have more than the 11 players on the field when they face Australia in the Women’s World Cup on Friday and that 12th person is not the support of the fans.
The charismatic and deeply religious coach of the Super Falcons says God is on Nigeria’s side ahead of their Group D clash with the Matildas and believes his nation will reach the final of the World Cup with divine intervention.
At times it seemed more like a sermon than a pre-match press conference as Okon – a devout Christian – spoke in length about his beliefs in guiding his team to the latter stages of the tournament.
“Nigeria has God on their team, they are very serious about it. I will not joke about this in name of God especially. The morale of the team is very, very, very high. Because in the name of the father, God is with [Nigeria] and the players are aware of this,” he said.
The spirit of the Nigerian team is soaring high after they achieved a dramatic 3-3 comeback over Sweden in their opening game. The confident Nigerians believe they can be the surprise champions having been the most dominant team in Africa’s history and now catching the attention of the world.
“We are looking forward to the final, not even to the quarter-final stage because Nigeria has what it takes,” Okon said.
A team full of flair, pace, creativity but lacking in defensive discipline, the Nigerians were dubbed as “unpredictable” by Matildas coach Alen Stajcic, which is a tag Okon agreed with. Though, instead of explaining the tactics of his side, Nigeria’s coach says God controlled his team’s style of play.
“Nobody can predict the Nigerian team. Only one man up there can predict the Nigerian team, which is the almighty God. He’s in charge,” Okon said. “They are fully determined and they are fully equipped with the power of the almighty father.”
The majority of the squad is Christian though the two known Muslim players joined in multi-faith gospel songs and dances performed at training grounds, venues and on team buses.
“We are one, Muslim, Christian … we serve the same God,” forward Francisca Ordega said. “You see the God, the spirit, I don’t even know how to express it. That gives us joy, that gives us the spirit to enable to us to withstand any pressure and any tension. Dancing is our hobby but not just dancing but we sing, we give praise to God because we all believe in him and he’s the one that keeps us going.”