Maureen Nkeiruka Mmadu is a former midfielder of the Super Falcons is now the Assustant Coach of the Nigeria senior women national team.
As a player she most recently featured for Avaldsnes IL, a first division team based in Norway’s west coast. She played for several other teams in Norway’s Toppserien as well as for Linköpings FC and QBIK in the Swedish Damallsvenskan.
She speaks on her dreams on her current job with the Super Falcons.
Question: How do you feel being part of the Super Falcons technical crew working under Coach Thomas Dennerby?
Madu: I feel very happy being part of the new Falcons’ technical crew under Thomas. It is an honour for me because it is a dream come true. Although it would have come earlier than now but my work abroad did not allow it but I thank God it finally happened.
Question: How did your appointment come about?
Madu: I was invited by the Nigeria Football Federation Technical Committee
to come for interview for the job of an assistant coach with other four male coaches that are based here in Nigeria, and after the interview I became the lucky one to secure the job.
Question: Being part of the Africa Women Nations Cup in Ghana and as a former player of the national team, how would you access the Super Falcons performance?
Madu: (Laugh) Well, I must say a big kudos to the Super Falcons because they really played and fought like lions. The players did very well. They never lost hope after losing the first match against Bayana Bayana. They went ahead to win every other game and also emerge the champions.
The fighting spirit was high and still high as we are in camp preparing for other tournaments ahead.
Question: World cup is fast approaching, how prepared is the team?
Madu: We are in the process of the preparation. As you can see, the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) has registered the team for the 4 nation’s tournament in China scheduled for January 17th to 25th. We are not just going to China for a jamboree. We want to play well in the tournament, using it as part of our preparation for the World Cup in France this year. This is to show you that the NFF really wants to change the face of female football in the country. This is one of the many steps for us and I must say I am impressed with the development. Do not forget that Chinese football is fast developing and I strongly believe Nigeria will benefit by tapping from it. We want to test every regional style of soccer to improve our girls for the task ahead of them.
African teams must register their names in the forthcoming Word Cup, starting with the Falcons. Days are gone when the trophy or first three position go to European countries. This year will make a difference because it is going to be battle when the tournament kicks off in June.
Question: Any hope for domestic players to make it as part of the squad to the France 2019 Women World Cup?
Madu: Right now the camp is open for every Nigerian both domestic and the players abroad. The Head Coach, Dennerby, wants to pick the best from anywhere in the world that can give everything in the field of play to represent Nigeria. Don’t forget we have few in camp with us now. Don’t forget we still have over 10 friendly matches lined for us by the NFF before the World Cup. So we will gradually be picking players till we get the best. After the 4 Nations tournament in China which we strictly invited players, we are going to have an open camp early enough to do few selections before we move into close camping.
Question: It is good that the NFF has lined over 10 friendly matches for the girls but do you think it will be enough to prepare the team before the World Cup?
Madu: (Smiles) I have to thank the NFF for this kind of surprise because this is the first time they are giving us this huge games to prepare us for the World Cup. All my life as a player in the Super Falcons till I retired, we never had this kind of friendly matches. I must say a very big thank you to Amaju Pinnick’s current board for their effort in bring light into female national team. Kudos to them.
Question: Thomas Dennerby is not in camp here in Nigeria with the team, leaving you with a big responsibility, how are you handling the girls as the assistant?
Madu: The most important thing here Is that we follow and work with every of his programs to bring out good result at the end. Dennerby understands African system of football together with few of us in the team and that alone gave him the victory in Ghana.
Dennerby is a nice and very good coach. He is like a father to all the players. He wants the best for the players and the nation. He really wants us and the players to always give our best in everything we do. I have learnt alot from him. Though I have worked with other white coaches abroad, he is exceptional, very ambitious and very workaholic. He wants us to be on our toes everytime, to make things work.
The players are happy. Success is sure and here in camp the players are united. The understanding is massive and unshakeable. They give their best in training knowing that there is no automatic shirt for anyone.
Question: What is your biggest challenge so far since you joined the falcons?
Madu: There must be challenges when you are in a new environment. The most important thing is how to handle those challenges. My biggest challenge so far is in selection of players because Nigeria has a lot of talented players that one gets confused in picking the best for a particular competition. But I must say I am adapting. We have quality technical crew that works together as a team to make sure we get the best.
Question: Who are the new invited players in the team?
Madu: There are two newly invited players in camp, Alice Ogebe and Ugochi Emanayo, apart from the one that went with us to Ghana, but we hope to look at more players when we return from China for other games we will play.
Question: How can you rate the Super Falcins in Africa, in terms of discipline, tactics and skills?
Madu: The Current squad in the Falcons are good. The legacy we left long before now is still there despite what we went through during my time in the national team and now. I think these current players are enjoying the fruit of our labour. We laid the foundation for them in the world, especially in African Football. The Super Falcons are respected anywhere in the world today. Many countries in Africa are scared of them because of the foundation we laid in the past. During my time in the national team most parents don’t allow their daughters to engage in football but today every family wants her female child to play soccer.
The Super Falcons remain the best in Africa following their record. They only need more confidence and also to be more professional, do your job 150 percent and give the best every time, no matter what, because you don’t know who is watching you on the sidelines. I see them as one of the team that will shock the World in France come June. If there will be an African team to reach the top three or four, it will be the Super Falcons because the spirit and zeal are high towards it.