Swede Thomas Dennerby to coach Nigeria's women's team

Thomas Dennerby
Dennerby's contract to lead Nigeria's Super Falcons is set to expire after the Olympics in August 2020

Nigeria's Football Federation (NFF) has confirmed Swede Thomas Dennerby as head coach of the country's women's team.

The 58-year-old has signed a deal until 2020 and replaces Florence Omagbemi, whose contract expired in 2016.

The experienced Dennerby managed Sweden's women's team from 2005-2012, guiding the side to third place at the 2011 Women's World Cup in Germany.

His appointment comes after the NFF appointed Randy Waldrum in October only for the American to turn down the role.

Waldrum failed to agree terms with the NFF, who had announced his appointment in October.

"The NFF decided to go for a coach of the calibre of Thomas Dennerby for three reasons," said Shehu Dikko, the NFF vice-president.

"To sustain and enhance the Super Falcons' dominance on the African scene.

"To take the Falcons and other women's teams to the next level of challenging for laurels at global competitions like the Olympics and the World Cup.

"To generally lay the foundation for the real development of women's football in our country."

During his extended spell with his national team, Dennerby made up for a group-stage exit at the 2007 Women's World Cup by finishing third in 2011, only the third time Sweden had ever reached the last four.

He also took the European side to the 2008 and 2012 Olympics, when Sweden were knocked out in the quarter-finals on both occasions.

He will be assisted for his new role by compatriot Jorgen Petersson, 42.

"Dennerby will live in Nigeria most of the time and support the other women teams whenever he has the time," added Dikko.

Coach Thomas Dennerby celebrates with his Swedish side at the 2011 Women's World Cup
Dennerby guided Sweden to third place at the 2011 Women's World Cup

"The contract is until the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo in the initial (phase), with the right for automatic renewal subject to meeting performance milestones as agreed."

The Super Falcons have not played or trained since lifting the Women's Africa Cup of Nations for an eighth time in 2016, when Omagbemi became the first woman to win the competition as both player and coach.

The lack of action prompted criticism from strikers Desire Oparanozie and Asisat Oshoala - the latter surprisingly named African Women's Player of the Year this month despite Nigeria not playing a single game in 2017.

Her performances for her new Chinese club, Dalian Quanjian, saw her triumph ahead of Chrestina Kgatlana and Gabrielle Onguene.

The first challenge for Dennerby will be the West African championship, the Wafu Women's Cup, in Ivory Coast scheduled for 10-24 February.

The team will then travel to Europe to play France in a friendly in April, following which the focus will be on securing a qualifying spot at the 2018 Africa Women Cup of Nations in Ghana.

This year's Women's Nations Cup takes on extra significance as it will also decide the continent's teams for the 2019 Women's World Cup.

Nigeria are the only African team to have played in all of the Women's seven World Cup tournaments since 1991 but they have failed to translate their continental dominance on the world stage.

Their best performance came when reaching the quarter-finals in 1999.