Coach Thomas Dennerby wants Nigeria to improve on their defensive and attacking play to challenge the best teams at the 2019 Women’s World Cup.
The Super Falcons will make their eighth appearance at the global showpiece in France this summer. They will be aiming to go beyond the quarter-final stage this term.
The 59-year-old led Sweden to a third-place finish at the 2011 Women’s World Cup and believes the African queens have a bright chance to excel in France.
“We definitely need to work on our attacking play,” Dennerby told Fifa .com.
“It’s one thing to score four times against Slovakia and three times against Thailand, but when you go to a World Cup where we will play against Norway, Korea Republic and France, it will be a totally new challenge for the players.
“We need to work on creating chances against the best teams. We need to work on our build-up play and trying to give the players more confidence on the ball. They really want to do the best and do the right thing.
“I’m not saying they don’t do that in Europe, but in Nigeria, they’re more extreme. It’s good in many ways, but also very heavy on their shoulders because they want to be so loyal.
“They need to feel free, that they can make mistakes. They will get a smile from the coach anyway. We have a really tough group, no doubt about it. I think we have a really good chance to have a good game against Norway and also against South Korea.
“And hopefully, if I can dream a little, three or four points when we come to the final match against France so that we can have that feeling of: ‘Wow this is a once-in-a-lifetime game against the host nation.’ If I were still a player, it would be the game of my life.”
The Super Falcons have played eight matches in 2019 as part of their preparations for the World Cup with four wins and four defeats, scoring 19 goals and conceding 12 times in the process.
The Swede has refused to be disappointed in his side’s poor defensive showing as he feels pleased with the experience gained from the friendlies.
“First of all, I was very happy that we had this opportunity. Playing at a tournament like this is extremely important for a team like the Super Falcons,” he continued.
“We played against teams that are ranked a bit higher. That gave us a lot of experience. We were a bit unlucky in the first game [against Austria] and we can almost forget about it.
“We got a red card just after six minutes, but actually, we did well in the first half. But when you play with only 10 players for such a long time then you start to get tired.
“If you look at the games after that, we played really well against Slovakia in the first half, but we lost a bit of concentration in the second. There were three penalties in the last 20 minutes, but we won 4-3. Our attacking play in that game was good. We had some really nice link-ups.
“I think our match against Belgium was probably our weakest game. We were very slow, we didn’t react and only acted after something had happened. We were better in our final match against Thailand – we worked more as a team again.
“If you put the game against Austria to one side, then we only let in one goal from open play. But I’m sorry to say that for different reasons we conceded too many goals from set pieces.”
Nigeria will face Norway, South Korea and hosts France in Group A in the 2019 Women’s World Cup and will begin their campaign against the Norwegians in Reims on June 8.