Oparanozie: Nigeria's lack of 'adequate preparation' to blame for drubbing

By Oluwashina OkelejiBBC Sport, Reims
Nigeria's players ahead of their friendly international against France in Le Mans on Friday night

Nigeria striker Desire Oparanozie says a lack of "adequate preparation" was to blame for their 8-0 drubbing by France in a women's friendly international in Le Mans on Friday night.

Valérie Gauvin's hat-trick, plus goals from Eugénie Le Sommer, Gaetane Thiney, Aminata Diallo, Marie-Charlotte Léger and Faith Ikidi's own goal resulted in Nigeria equalling their record defeats against Norway (1995) and Germany (2010).

It was a blow for Thomas Dennerbyexternal-link in his first real test as Nigeria coach.

The Super Falcons were playing their first match since winning an eighth Women's Africa Cup of Nations title in December 2016.

"To be honest, I think we didn't have adequate preparation going into this game, taking into consideration the fact that we were inactive for as long as we were - 16 months," France-based Nigeria striker Desire Oparanozie told BBC Sport.

"We are the champions of Africa and we can all say it was rightly deserving. However, we can't deny the fact that while we were out, our opposition have been busy getting stronger.

"They were definitely more prepared than we were. They began camping before us even though most of them are home based. The bulk of us came from outside France and had just one full day of training together before match day.

"I admit it might not be a good enough reason for the scoreline but France were bound to put in a better showing than us," Oparanozie added.

Thomas Dennerby
Nigeria coach Thomas Dennerby had to make late changes to his squad for the France game

Decimated by late withdrawals and without reigning African footballer of the year, Asisat Oshoala, Nigeria were forced to include five new players into the 18-team squad.

The French side, who beat the Black Queens of Ghana by the same scoreline last October, dominated play to prove that continental giants Nigeria are still way behind Europe's best.

Despite the result, Oparanozie insisted there are some positives to take from their time in France.

"It's been good here and I also have to note the introduction of some new young players into the squad for the very first time," said Oparanozie of their training camp.

"They are definitely good additions and one thing is certain, as long as they continue to work hard they would only serve to make the team stronger.

"Importantly, the fact that this is our first training camp with the coach, we have started to get his idea of football and that's a positive."

As the players return to their different clubs, focus will switch to securing a qualifying spot at the 2018 Africa Women Cup of Nations in Ghana as they aim to retain their continental title.

This year's Women's Nations Cup will take on extra significance as it will also decide the continent's teams for the 2019 Women's World Cup - in what could be Nigeria's eighth record appearance at the tournament.

Oparanozie welcomes the latest friendly against France but insists they need more games to progress.

"We deserve consistent engagements with Grade A opposition just as we hope to compete against them on the global stage.

"We also need proper facilities...and women teams need adequate, documented and properly planned logistical arrangements, preferably before tournaments/camping to ensure seamless experiences."

Nigeria are the only African team to have played in all of the Women's World Cup tournaments since 1991.

They have failed to translate their continental dominance on the world stage, their best performance coming in USA in 1999 when they reached the quarter-finals.

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