Tosan Blankson and captain, Onuegbu Ihuoma have expressed their optimism in Delta Queens’ chance of hoisting the Nigeria Women Football League Premiership title for the first time in 11 years.
The five-time champions last had their hands on the Nigerian title diadem in 2012 but since failed to earn success despite coming close in 2017 and 2021 before later missing out on the coveted title at the expense of Nasarawa Amazons and Rivers Angels respectively.
With the burden of ending an 11-year wait for glory and a sole ticket to the WAFU-B Women’s Champions League qualifiers, the tactician has opened up on their ultimate goal against title holders Bayelsa.
“Delta Queens is here to win the competition and apart from winning this competition, we want to present the trophy to the new Governor,” Blankson said at the pre-match press conference.
“With what the State Government has been doing for the team, we can’t afford to lose this trophy. Bayelsa Queens and Rivers Angels have gone for continental. It’s not just our turn, we have prepared for it.
“From the beginning of the season, that was our target. Our target wasn’t to go the whole season unbeaten but to represent the country but fortunately ad luckily for us, we have been unbeaten and still intend to remain unbeaten till the end of the season.”
Delta cruise into the final on the back of 15-match unbeaten feat but must avoid a heartbreak on home soil against the Prosperity ladies, who handed them their last defeat at the last edition in Benin City.
“Bayelsa Queens are a very good side. We played them during the regular season and saw what they did. Although we won in Yenagoa but it wasn’t easy for us. They came here and had a draw in Asaba,” Blankson continued.
“Playing at home isn’t easy for us. We even preferred playing away than at home because most of the matches we won were away. We won three away matches during the regular season.
“With the standard of the girls now and what we have impacted on them, they know what to do at any given time. We don’t have any pressure playing at home. The girls have given their best. They will only without pressure and win the Super Six.”
To reach the finals, Delta have continued to give a good account of themselves, beginning with a 3-1 thrashing of Confluence Queens in their opening match before a 0-0 draw with Edo Queens.
With four points, Blankson’s side did enough to maintain their unbeaten run and guarantee their place in the final.
And the former international is trusting his ladies to finish their memorable season on high, after an fine campaign without defeat.
“My confidence is in the girls and what they are doing. The confidence is not even in the coaches. We have told them what to do and they are ready to go. We had a game plan for the match against Edo Queens,” Blankson recounted.
“Our opponents were looking for a goal or two goals to qualify. With two goals, they would top the group. With a goal, they would play the third-place match while we are not struggling for anything with a draw putting us through. We achieved that game plan against Edo Queens and waiting for the final.
“Towards the end of the regular season, people were saying we were having so many draws. If we had 50 points and did not win the Super Six, it’s useless. If we lose the final, it’s a failure and we have failed. I bet you, we are not going to lose tomorrow. We would crown our efforts unbeaten, win the trophy, and represent the country.”
On her part, Delta goalkeeper and captain, Onuegbu assures that her teammates are mentally ready for the challenge and poised to hoist the title at the expense of Bayelsa Queens.
“I want to appreciate the Nigeria Women Football League (NWFL). So far, it has been a good one. Women’s football in the country has grown with a lot of improvement,” the former Nigeria U20 admitted.
“For this season, Delta Queens has done so well with our coaches going unbeaten. We had a goal which was to qualify for the Super Six and achieved that.
“Our next goal is to lift the trophy and represent the country at the continental level. I believe with what we have, we will achieve that.
“Mentally, we are ready for the game. I am also ready as the captain of the team. If I am not ready that means the players are not ready. I am ready for tomorrow’s game. Mentally, we are balanced for the game because I want to win the trophy.
“We are not relenting and have the confidence in the players that we would do a better job. Bayelsa Queens is a good side. We have played them before and have won them in their home. In our home, they drew.”
Amid pressure of ending their title drought on home soil, the skippo is upbeat about the possibility of achieving the glory in style.
“There is no way we won’t give out our best. We would try our best and are coming all out because we want to win and represent the country because we have all it takes to represent the country,” she hopes.
“We have the chance of bringing back the lost glory of Delta State. By God’s grace, we would do that tomorrow. We are assuring the Delta fans that we won’t disappoint them and would come all out and play our hearts out. By God’s grace, God will crown our efforts with victory.
“We are prepared for the outcome of the game tomorrow. If the game goes into penalties, with the players and what the coaches had impacted on us, I believe that we are good to go.
“Our coach used to call us the Manchester City of the NWFL and liken himself to Pep Guardiola, I would also liken myself to the captain of Manchester City come tomorrow (Sunday) and believe that we would achieve that.”
A win for Delta Queens on Sunday means three different teams will represent Nigeria at the first three editions of the WAFU-B Zonal Qualifiers for the CAF Women’s Champions League after Rivers Angels in 2021 and Bayelsa Queens in 2022.