New Telegraph

NFF must overhaul Falcons to be ‘super’ again

The recently-concluded Aisha Buhari Championship was good preparation for future tournaments. Ghana, Cameroon, South Africa, Mali and Morocco are other teams that took part in the tournament. Incidentally, the competition exposed the Super Falcons in many ways. Nigeria defeated Mali 2-0 in the opener but the goals came late in the game through home-based player Monday Gift of Robo FC. Against South Africa in the second and last match, it was a disgrace as Nigeria went down by three goals in the first half. That had never happened to the team against African opponents.

Two early goals were recorded by Nigeria in the second half by Vivian Ikechukwu, another home-based player, who plays for Rivers Angels, but these were not enough to achieve a comeback. The South Africans stood their ground with inspiration from defender Van Wyk and they dominated the game to get a deserved fourth goal to seal the win. We believe it was a big disappointment by the Falcons, especially because it happened in Lagos, with top players like Asisat Oshoala, Rita Chikwelu and Desire Oparanozie on parade. It is important to stress the impact of the youthful trio of Gift, Ikechuckwu and Opeyemi Sunday in the match against the South Africans.

However, the deficiency of Coach Randy Waldrum was evident as he had no answer to the porous midfield which failed to create chances for the strikers such that the defenders resorted to sending long balls forward to the attackers. The coach has two jobs – one with Nigeria and another with a university in the United States. And Waldrum cannot get the players in the grassroots to join others and compete for roles in the senior national team. No doubt, there is no transition process in the team and if there is, it is poor and that is why we still have Chikwelu, Francisca Odega, Ngozi Okobi and Onome Ebi in the team.

There is no doubt Waldrum is not doing well enough and will take the Falcons nowhere, because it is clear there is a need for an overhaul of the team. We urge the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) to effect the overhauling of the coaching staff if we are to see an improved performance from the team. Going forward, young players should form the nucleus of the new-look team just as we believe that the NFF can look inward to get a new coach for the team. One or two of those honoured by the NFF recently can manage the team better. Mercy Akide-Udoh, Florence Omagbemi and some others are top coaches with deep knowledge of women’s football at global levels.

The NFF did very well with the recognition accorded the ‘Class of 99’ but it was a surprise that the coach of the team, Ismaila Mabo, was left out. We frown at this administrative anomaly which is very unfair. As we look forward to the next Africa Women Cup of Nations (AWCON) slated for Morocco in July 2022, there is a need for the NFF to take crucial decisions on the Falcons, starting with Waldrum.

There must be a plan to bring in more players from the domestic league and the youth teams to strengthen the team. The South Africans, Ghanaians and even Cameroonians all came with young players for the ABC and they will only get better as they gain experience ahead of the 2022 AWCON. Banyana Banyana will undoubtedly see themselves as hot favourites to stop Nigeria’s quest for a 10th title and only serious responsive measures can prevent them from doing so. It is not late to salvage the situation for the Falcons to maintain their stronghold on the continent but the NFF must be ready to shun sentiments and take critical decisions to help the team get better.

We make bold to say talents are all over the nooks and crannies of the country. The athletes are scattered in schools and at the grassroots but the administrators and coaches tend to favour a ‘quick fix’ rather than developmental approach in getting results. A former Super Eagles coach, Adegboye Onigbinde, has over the years warned that there is danger in the football circles because the country is not adopting a developmental approach to bring out talents. Those in positions of authority failed to listen. In Africa today, the Super Falcons are the most consistent team in terms of the trophies won and the overall results recorded.

Unfortunately in the past few years, things are gradually changing as the gap between Nigeria and other teams is being narrowed by Cameroon, Ghana and South Africa. At the last African Women Nations Cup, which was hosted by Ghana in 2018, Banyana Banyana defeated the Falcons in group stage and only lost to Nigeria on penalties in the final. The Black Queens of Ghana and Lionesses of Cameroon have at one time or the other defeated the Falcons. We want the Falcons to be ‘super’ again. Rather than lose their dominance in Africa, the national team should be aiming to close the gap between them and top female footballing countries like Brazil, USA, China, Norway, Germany and Sweden.

Read Previous

Employ more Islamic teachers in Lagos schools, NACOMYO begs Sanwo-Olu

Read Next

Environmental hazards and Ogun Government’s interventions

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *