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No underdogs in Aisha Buhari Cup, says Okon

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Coach of Rivers Angel, Edwin Okon

We are here to win the trophy, Mali’s coach boasts

Rivers Angels Manager, Edwin Okon, has invited football lovers to key into the Aisha Buhari International Women Tournament, saying the competition guarantees top quality soccer.

The former manager of the senior national team, Super Falcons, believes all the teams in the competition have equal chances of going home with the trophy, adding, “There is no pushover among the sides.”

Describing the competition as timely and good for women football development, Okon added that team selection in favour of the domestic players would give the tournament its biggest catch.

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“Every team prepares well for this kind of tournament. It will be wrong for us to consider Mali a pushover, I do not think so, and nobody should go to sleep because Mali is on the table. Morocco is a country we do not know much about and for a team you do not know, it becomes risky to sleep in one’s preparation; we must give adequate and due respect to all our opponents.

“For us, we need players who will be ready to die on the field of play defending the honour and name of the country and the reason I will canvass for increased presence of the NWFL products in our team selection.

“Aisha Buhari Cup is a very good development; the biggest thing that’s happening to women football in Nigeria and Africa. I wholeheartedly support its developmental messages and commend the initiators.”

“I had one or two conversations with the Ghanaian coach at the recent CAF Women Champions League qualifiers in Abidjan and they are coming in a big way for the tournament. He said they are going to beef up the squad with quality players and that the country’s vice president is interested in the team. I can tell you for free that the Ghanaian side that will be coming will be a very good one and possibly a hard nut to crack at the tournament,” said Okon.

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Meanwhile, Mali’s Head Coach, Saloum Mohamed Houssein, believes his side will have a good outing at the Aisha Buhari Cup tournament.

The Women Eagles will compete in the six-nation tournament organised in honour of the country’s First Lady, Aisha Muhammadu Buhari, with its theme Playing for Good. The nine-day competition will see the Malians slug it out with hosts and reigning African champions Nigeria and Morocco in Group A, with matches scheduled for Mobolaji Johnson Arena, Onikan.

“We are very happy to be among the invited countries for a competition that features the best women’s teams on the continent. We are less than two months away from the start of the qualifiers for the Women AFCON, so it’s a good test for us. We have the ambition to fight for a good result in Lagos, even as our group opponents are Nigeria and Morocco,” he said.

In the group stage, the Women Eagles are up against the Super Falcons, who thrashed them 8-0 in 2015 (their biggest ever defeat in history) and Atlas Lionesses that beat them 6-2 on aggregate in a double-header friendly.

The Malians will hope to use the Aisha Buhari Cup as part of preparations for their first-round showdown with Guinea in the 2022 Women Africa Cup of Nations race in October 2021.

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