October, 7 2023.
The Nigeria Basketball Federation (NBBF) has been reminded of the need to ensure that the nation's senior women's basketball team, D'Tigress are exposed to adequate and preparation; if the country is to stand a chance of qualifying for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.
A member of the board, and President of FIFA Africa, Zone 3, Retired Colonel Sam Ahamedu stated this while reacting to Thursday's draw, for the 2024 Olympic Qualifying Tournament (Women), which pitted the African champions, against the United States, host off the qualifiers Belgium, and Senegal - the side Nigeria defeated in June, to win the 2023 FIBA Women's Afrobasket title.
Speaking exclusively with www.ckdmedia.ng, Rtd. Col. Ahmedu described the draw as very tough; but was quick to add that Nigeria can still surmount the odds stacked against the D'Tigress; if only the leadership of the NBBF decides to learn from their numerous mistakes of late, and ensure the team is adequately prepared.
"It all starts from calling-up the right players, based on their individual merit, and detoxifying the milieu so that the players can relate freely with each other and the officials".
Once this is done and they are exposed to good training and friendly games, I think we got the players and the team to get past the odds and qualify for the Paris 2024 Olympics.
He however warned that should the NBBF stick with the fire brigade preparations, of camping the teams for just a few days before major games; Nigeria is very unlikely to make it to Paris.
"The USA have already qualified for the Olympics, and irrespective of their performance in the OQT, that status won't change. Belgium is also the host, and is one of the top teams in Europe and the world presently. On papper, one should say they will take one of the tickets. It will then be down to Senegal and Nigeria; and who gets it will depend on which team wants it more", Rtd. Col. Ahmedu postulated.
"This will be like a repeat of the D'Tigress numerous duels with the Teranga Lionesses; at the Women's Afrobasket finals, in 2023, 2019, and 2017. The good news there's Nigeria triumphed over Senegal, in all of the above match-ups", he added.
The estranged Board member and member of the NBBF Technical Committee warned that any attempt to take Senegal lightly or underate the side, could be potentially harmful, as they showed some good promise and quality, after loosing their first two games, in Kigali, during the FIBA Women's Afrobasket tournament, hosted by Rwanda.
D'Tigress of Nigeria qualified for the qualifying tournament after beating the Lionesses of Senegal to emerge champions of the 2023 Women's Afro basketball championship.
Thursday's draw, took place in Budapest, the capital of Hungary; and the tournament will be held in Antwerp, Belgium from February 8 -12, 2024.
The FIBA Women’s Olympic Qualifying Tournaments will also be held from February 8 to 11, 2024 in three other cities, Belem (Brazil); Sopron (Hungary); and a City yet to be confirmed, in China.
Belgium is ranked sixth (6th) in the world and second (2nd) in Europe; Nigeria is Africa's top ranked team, and eleventh (11th) in the world, while Senegal are ranked twentieth (20th) globally and number 3 on the continent; surprisingly, neither the NBBF nor Coach of the D'Tigress, Rena Wakama has commented on the outcome of the draw.