Aicha Henriette Ndiaye, the U20 women’s national head coach of Senegal in an interview with CAFOnline.com, reveals that her team must be ‘faultless’ at all levels to subdue Nigeria and qualify for a final phase of FIFA U20 Women’s World Cup™ which can bring a ‘huge revival’ for women’s football in Senegal.
CAFOnline.com: How are you preparing for the first leg against Nigeria on Saturday?
Ndiaye: For this match, the target will be to win and also and above all not to cash in at home. It will be a difficult meeting where nothing should be overlooked. We have to be ready physically, tactically and mentally. The Nigerians are not going to let go and it is up to us to respond. I saw that it is a team that is very good on the physical level and that goes quickly in front. Mentally, we have to be strong and before this meeting, the girls have shown that at this level, they are ready to take up the challenge since having managed very good outings against the opponents (Mali, Guinea and Morocco) at home and in the outside. But on Saturday, we must go a bit higher because behind it is a historic qualification for a FIFA U20 Women’s World Cup that is in front of us.
Exactly, isn’t there a risk of having too much pressure given the importance of the match?
All games in modern football are high stakes, you always play something for your team and for yourself. Women’s football is growing in Senegal and after the pioneers that we have been, this generation can allow it to take a new step and therefore we will have to succeed in convincing them that the moment is important but it remains and remains a football match, a sport they love and have chosen.
And precisely at the end, there is a qualification for the FIFA U20 Women’s World Cup, what can that bring for women’s football in Senegal?
Qualification would be great and unique since it would be a historic first and a great step forward for Senegalese women’s football, which is back in the Women’s AFCON finals after 10 years of absence. And that will further convince the Senegalese Football Federation that it is on the right track. In the recent past, there were only about ten days of training for the women’s national selections and currently, the Federation has granted us 10 months of training. All the time, we are in camps. And that is why qualifying for the World Cup will also be a form of encouragement to move forward. Also for clubs that are starting to invest in women’s football by setting up youth teams. So a qualification for the FIFA U20 Women’s World Cup could boost the whole ecosystem of national women’s football and create more opportunities for footballers and convince parents more.
I am a young and vibrant sports journalist from Ghana, a member of the Sports Writers’ Association of Ghana(SWAG), and working with Sports Preview Ghana and sports reporting outfit poised to bring all the latest and trending sports news around the globe.