Sports

The declining fortunes of Super Falcons

Only recently, I wrote on the deficiency of the Super Eagles Manager Gernot Rohr, who is struggling with the array of stars in the senior national team. The stars in the Eagles had one of their best seasons aggregately in their respective leagues in Europe last term and it was a shame that such did not reflect when Nigeria played two international friendly games against Cameroon in Austria. They could not score a goal in the back-to-back games and generally, Rohr has failed to prove he is good enough for the Eagles especially with the money he is earning ($50,000 monthly). Eagles, no doubt, deserve better. The women national football team, the Super Falcons, remain the best in Africa over the years. Out of the 11 African women titles, Nigeria clinched nine with dominance in scoreline and overall standard of play.

Since 1991 when the Women World Cup started in China, Nigeria is yet to miss one edition out of the eight staged so far. The individual awards over the years have been monopolized by Nigerian female football stars. Between 2001 and now, Nigerian ladies have won 11 times with Ghanaian and South Africans winning two times while Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea won the award once each. It is important to stress that Perpetua Nkwocha and Asisat Oshoala won the award four times respectively. And so, it is of huge concern that the gap Super Falcons created between Nigeria and other countries on the continent is being narrowed by the day. The Falcons now struggle to beat average teams on the continent. The expectation of Nigerians is that the Falcons should be competing among the best in the world since they are consistently number one in Africa. In recent time, the Falcons just like the Super Eagles are also having issues over the man in the helm of affairs, Randy Waldrum, an American who is also the head coach of University of Pittsburgh women’s soccer.

It is strange that the Nigeria Football Federation allowed such anomaly. The coach is currently holding two jobs with Nigeria (Falcons) and the University of Pittsburgh respectively. No serious football federation will go into such an agreement. Already, he has a divided attention and can never give his all to the national women team. And so, it did not come as a surprise that Deneisha Blackwood scored the only goal as Jamaica defeated Nigeria 1-0 in the opening match of the international invitational tournament match at the BBVA Stadium. No one saw that coming because the Falcons went into the encounter as favourites. Oshoala and Onome Ebi did not feature in that match but it was not enough to have lost the Jamaicans.

In the second match, the team rallied to a 3-3 scoreline against Portugal while in the last encounter against the USA, Falcons again fell 2-0 courtesy of two late goals recorded in each half by the Americans. The Falcons team should be among the top 10 teams in the world based on experience, participation and the pedigree of some of the stars in the team. For example, Captain Oshoala is a member of the Barcelona team that won the European Champions League. The domestic women league is becoming more and more vibrant by the day with Rasidat Ajibade and a few others just breaking into the senior team but Randy Waldrum is yet to make fans of the game see the impact of the league. Many top former Nigerian international players with amazing records are on the cards to pick from.

Mercy Akide, Florence Omagbemi, Uche Ucharia, Stella Mbachu, Perpetua Nkwocha and a host of others could do better than the current university coach. Omagbemi won the AWCON for Nigeria as a coach but the NFF fired her following the crisis in the team at time over welfare issues. After then, she has been working with FIFA to further develop her technical knowledge in the game.

The NFF must look beyond Waldrum if the Falcons must get better. The American is not a known person in the league of global women national team coaches and so why hire him? Nigeria deserves to step up in the administration of football in the country. Sentiments should be swept aside for merit to prevail at all times. If the NFF cannot trust at least one or two of the Nigerian female football legends to handle the team, an established foreign coach is what the team desires not a ‘journeyman’ that has another job in the university.

 

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