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Accra battle: We can’t afford not to qualify – Nkwocha

 Super Falcons coach, Eucharia Uche’s fate with the team is tied to today’s second leg All Africa Games qualifier against the Black Queens of Ghana in Accra and as a result she has loaded the team with seven Europe-based players who couldn’t make the first leg in Abuja a fortnight ago.

Among the top professionals on ground to rescue the team from their Ghanaian rivals is Africa’s leading female footballer and hotshot, Pepertua Nkwocha who expressed optimism during the week on a Lagos-based radio that the Falcons would sail through.

Other players lined up for the must win encounter are Faith Ikidi, Rita Chikwelu, Helen Ukaonu, Sarah Michael, Ulunma Jerome and Ogonna Chukwudi. All of them where held back by their European clubs causing the Abuja leg of the qualifier to end 1-1, leaving their qualification hopes hanging by the slimmest of threads.

But coach Uche has now hauled in the heavy artillery, and the team say they are confident of victory.

“We are ready to win and we will win,” Gracious Akujobi, the team Media officer.  The game will bring memories of the qualifier for the 2004 Olympic Games, when the Black Queens also drew 1-1 with Nigeria in the first leg game played at the Liberty Stadium, Ibadan.

Two weeks later, a tense return leg also ended 1-1, and Nigeria advanced on penalties after even more nail-biting extra time.

Star striker Nkwocha was in that team, but says the team are determined not to repeat that heart-stopping experience. “We won’t let this get to that stage. We want to win the game as early as possible because we can’t afford not to qualify.”

The match comes up on Sunday, and the winners qualify for the All Africa Games.


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