Bayelsa Queens TD Hakeem Busari eyes back-to-back NWFL Premiership success

Bayelsa Queens are aiming to retain the Nigeria Women’s Football League (NWFL) Premiership title when they face off with hosts Delta Queens in the final of the 2022/23 Super Six final on Sunday.

The Prosperity ladies are in the running for the Nigerian diadem on the bounce for the second time in its history but will face an uphill task against the unbeaten hosts at Stephen Keshi Stadium, Asaba.

After winning Nigerian title last term, the Yenagoa-based side won WAFU-B title in 2022 and went on to claim bronze medal at the 2022 CAF Women’s Champions League a feat, Hakeem Busari aims to surpass, starting with retaining the Nigerian league title on Sunday.

“I want to use this opportunity to congratulate Nigerians as a whole and the organizers because this is a big height looking at the antecedents of men’s football in Nigeria,” Busari said during the pre-match press conference.

“Taking the women as well to the height is a very good one. This is going to attract sponsors to the league. For Bayelsa Queens, we represented Nigeria at the last CAF Women’s Champions League and represented well with a third-place finish in Africa.

“For this feat, we are at this point, we are ever ready but we still want to go there to prove our worth. We felt in the last time when we were there, we ought to take the gold.

“It was a slip on our first game against Sundowns Ladies. We have tasted it and we know the terrain. Going back there, we are going to give Nigeria two representatives in the coming edition.

“For the final, we are not pushing Delta Queens over and we are not under-rating them because we have played in the league and saw what they can do.

“For what we have both technically and the state of mind of our players in camp, playing Delta Queens at home isn’t an advantage to them because it’s all about football, fairness, and sincerity. By His grace on the final day, everybody will get a good brand of football and Bayelsa Queens would surely take the day.”

Bayelsa had failed to beat the Deltans during the regular season, with a shock 2-1 defeat in Yenagoa before a 1-1 draw in Asaba.

Despite securing a 1-0 win over Tosan Blankson’s side at the last Super Six, the former Crown and Shooting Stars manager has played down the possible pressure of facing the hosts team in the final.

“For the feeling of pressure, it’s like you are in a room and still a custodian of the situation in the room. If the light is on or off you still know the routine to the route. For us being there before we know the routines and we have our set target,” Busari continued.

“We are ever ready and not panicking. We just want to do our best and want Nigerians to see that we are ready as always to represent them and will represent them well.

“For the team, we had a bulk of players registered for the tournament and we have one or two knocks but we have tested players that are ready. We need to manage whatsoever team we have.

“What we need to get good tactics of the game whereby we would have players play in some key positions. Looking at the pedigree of the teams contesting, they too are not pushovers. As the Star Governments are supporting us, the other teams are also getting government support.

“The competition is getting tougher. Two years ago when Rivers Angels represented Nigeria, during our own time, the terrain was much tougher. It becomes tougher like that in all tournaments. For having a slim margin wins, in as much as we get our house right and won, all other things will be corrected.

“After the league, we are in the Federation Cup final. We are still playing the Federation Cup after the end of the regular season. We had some knocks before coming for the Super Six. We have been able to manage the situation and the Technical crew are also working hard to see how we can bring the team together to get what we want.

“The players are ready technically, physically, and psychologically. The three Ds are core; dedication, determination, and discipline. We really want to put our hearts together because we have been there and know how tasty that place was.”

The Prosperity ladies are already through to the Nigeria’s Federation Cup final after seeing off Edo Queens and they will face off with their perpetual rivals Rivers Angels in bid to defend their title on June 21.

In the quest for a double, Bayelsa must upset Delta in front of their home fans to retain the NWFL Premiership title and the team’s technical director is upbeat about their chance in silencing the hosts.

“It’s going to be a brand for NWFL as a whole and it’s going to be a brand for Bayelsa Queens and a brand for women’s football as a whole. It’s a mental strength game whereby the artistry of the players is being called to play,” Busari relishes.

“We have been able to tell our players that when they are playing and being tense, they tend to do things in the wrong way. What they need is calmness in whatsoever thing that is happening, people are in charge.

“Mentally, we have prepared them. Whenever we are playing or representing Nigeria, you never find anything wanting in our team because these are what we spoke to them as classwork for the build-up of the game. For a team to have those ethics that work for them, you must have a very disciplined team.

“Home fans for the host is the work of a psychologist. The fans are there to add more glamour to the game and not interfere with what’s going on on the field of play or add numbers to players on the pitch. We have told our players that the game is about 90 minutes and they will be involved with match officials.

“Looking at the pedigree, for us to have played at the CAF Champions League where the crowd is even above what we are having here and we were able to withstand that showing that Bayelsa Queens is a team to be reckoned with. It’s an affair we are used to.

“For officiating, I want to beg every one of us because what we are parading is an improvement of women’s football in Nigeria. We are all stakeholders. In as much as we want the best and improvement, I don’t think there is going to be fairness to anyone anywhere. It has to be a free judge for both sides because we are looking for a good representative for Nigeria.

“I believe our match officials have been doing great and this one is not going to be an exception. I have handled a lot of big teams in this country both Shooting Stars and Crown FC. As a coach, we have been assigned a job to do. Panicking is part of what we are used to. It’s just like telling a woman going to the market to go and buy foodstuffs. She is used to it and we are ever ready and we know God will see us through.

“We want to add value and improvement to our players going abroad to play as well as add value to women’s football as a whole. For our girls, whatsoever thy are doing, the people in the Super Falcons Technical Department are watching. At the last U-17 and U-20 tournaments, we had players in the team. Whoever is being saddled with that opportunity to select players for the national team will do the justice but we can recommend if they ask us.”

On her part, Bayelsa captain, Igwe Uzoamaka pledges her side readiness for the high-profile showdown against the hosts Delta and reinterates their eagerness to retain their title in Asaba.

“On our own part as players we will make sure we perform well in the final. We have watched our first two games of the Super Six and corrected our mistakes,” Uzomaka told the press.

“I believe the final game will be an improvement. We are going to play our best game. I think in this competition we have not played our best game.

“We know how to play finals and have been in different finals like league finals and Federation Cup finals so we know how to go about it.

“Another final means a whole lot to me. In fact, we are here to defend our cup and that is what we are going to do on Sunday.”

A win earns the Yenegoa-based side the sole ticket to represent Nigeria once again at the WAFU-B Zonal Qualifiers for a chance to feature at the 2023 CAF Women’s Champions League in Ivory Coast.