I’m ready to coach Falcons, says Dede

Precious Dede

Precious Dede was Nigeria’s first choice goalkeeper for 15 years, leading the Super Falcons to four appearances at the FIFA Women’s World Cup, including USA 2003, China 2007, Germany 2011 and Canada 2015. She retired after 99 caps.

Now, Dede is ready for bigger responsibilities having completed her Advanced Coaching course at the Nigeria Institute for Sports (NIS) in Lagos. Her target is to return to the national team as a goalkeeper trainer as quickly as possible.

Speaking with The Guardian yesterday, soft-speaking Dede said: “It will be a thing of joy for me to return to the national team as a goalkeeper trainer as soon as possible to impact the knowledge I have acquired from my training as a coach. I am ready to serve in any capacity in the coaching crew, both at club and national team levels.”

Apart from the World Cup, Dede also led the Super Falcons to three appearances at the Olympics Games, Sydney 2000, Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008. Perhaps, her major achievement was in the African Women’s Championship, where she led the Super Falcons to four African titles in six editions. She was in post for Nigeria in 2004, 2006, 2008, 2010 and 2012. At Namibia 2014 edition of the championship, Dede lost the No 1 shirt to Ibubeleye Whyte, but claimed it back in 2015 during the World Cup in Canada.

She retired from the Falcons shortly after the World Cup to pursue a coaching career in football. “I completed my Basic Coaching study at the NIS in 2016 and did my Advised course in football coaching this year,” Dede told The Guardian yesterday. “Now that I have secured my Advanced Coaching certificate, my target is to begin my coaching career immediately. If I am lucky to get a job with any of the national teams, I will be very grateful and I won’t disappoint my country,” she stated.

In her playing days, Dede led various clubs to success in both the league and FA Cup competitions. One of such clubs was Delta Queens FC, where Dede made big headlines, leading the club to win the Super Six contest in Umuahia, Abia State (her state of origin) in 2004 and the FA Cup in Abuja.

Recalling her moments as a goalkeeper, Dede said: “I feel that I did my best for the country for the 15 years I was in post for the Super Falcons. I wanted to quit before the last World Cup in Canada 2015, but I was asked to come back and play. Things did not work out well for us in Canada because the Falcons had a very disappointing performance at the World Cup. I had thought we could get as far as the final or even the semis in Canada, but it didn’t work out that way. I had to leave the stage for the younger ones.”

One of the greatest moments many football-loving Nigerians will remember Dede for was her five-star performance for the Falcons in 2004 during the qualifiers for Athens Olympics Games. It was in a match that pitched the Falcons against Ghana’s Black Queens, and the venue was Accra. The first leg in Nigeria had ended 1-1 at the Liberty Stadium, Ibadan.

Top striker, Nkechi Egbe, who scored the only goal for Nigeria in Ibadan struck first in Accra and the Ghanaians responded shortly after.  It ended 1-1 and they needed to decide who progressed to the Olympics through a penalty shoot out. While Dede was in gaol for the Falcons, the Ghanaians relied on ever-boastful Memunatu Sulemana. Nigeria took the first kick through Ajuamai Ameh and the Ghanaian keeper stopped it.

They scored their kick. Nigeria’s second kick was taken by Vera Okolo and again, the Ghanaian keeper stopped it. They scored again to have a 2-0 advantage.

From there, Dede came into the party. She stopped the third kick by the Ghanaians, while Nkechi Egbe scored for Nigeria. It was 2-1. Dede again stopped their fourth kick, while Perpetua Nkwocha netted her own to bring scores to 2-2. At that point, the Accra Stadium, which was parked full, became silent. Ghana’s most experienced player and first team captain, who was then plying her soccer trade in the United States, Albarty Sackey stood up for their last kick and again, Dede provided an answer. Nigeria’s former defender, Yinka Kudaisi took a powerful one, which sealed into the net for the Falcons to carry the day.

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