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Super Falcons’ World Cup Outing in Retrospect



By Gharny Yeku

In country where politics divides us, sport, especially football, counters the division by uniting us. The performance of the Super Falcons though exited in the ongoing FIFA Women’s World Cup gives the game enthusiasts something to savour and a hint of hope of what is to come if we can properly harness our potential.

However, the preparation of the team for the tournament was not without the usual shenanigans of the entity called Nigeria. This has made many people to lose hope in the team to perform better in the competition. In the build-up to the competition, the coach of the team, Randy Waldrum, had allegedly fingered the nation’s football governing body, the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), of mismanagement of the funds allocated to the team by the world governing body, FIFA, to prepare the team for the competition, among other issues which include backlogs of salaries and bonuses payable to both the coaches and players, which the head coach said might affect the teamʼs chances at the tournament. All of this happened with just a few days to the start of the tournament.

Both parties continued to be at loggerheads, with the American and his employer throwing a jab at each other until the eve of the commencement of the competition. It is against this background that made many observers of the team write off the team of a good showing at the Mundial.

Fast forward to the competition proper and the eventual elimination of the team from the competition they narrowly lost by penalty shootout against England on Monday, the team made a remarkable impact in the ongoing Women’s Football World Cup. They showcased their skill, determination, and teamwork. They have left a lasting impression on both fans and critics alike in the Women’s Football World Cup.

The team was grouped in group A alongside Canada, Co-host, Australia and Ireland. All of the teams are ranked above the super falcons which added to the glooming hope of early crash out from the tournament. In their group A opening encounter with Canada which ended in a goalless draw. The team displayed exceptional defensive capabilities, effectively thwarting their opponents’ attacks and minimizing goals conceded.

During their second group game against Australia, the team exhibit offensive prowess with the players showcasing their speed, agility, and precision in scoring goals. The Super Falcons demonstrated remarkable resilience and mental strength, bouncing back from a goal down to win the match 3-2. For their third match, they played out another goalless against Republic of Ireland to qualify as a runner-up from the group to the second round.

Super Falcons of Nigeria, aiming to become the first African team to win a knockout match at the Women’s World Cup, faced no easy opponents in England.

The nine-time African champions had beaten co-hosts Australia and finished above Olympic gold medallists Canada in the group stages. They were there for a giant-killing and almost succeeded. They dominated England in every stage of the game, after 120 minutes, Nigeria had attempted 405 passes – their highest in this year’s tournament – while England only had 12 shots, their lowest since arriving in Australia. Unfortunately, the team lost out in a penalty shout-out.

Despite facing challenges such as limited funding, lack of adequate facilities, and inconsistent coaching, the Super Falcons continue to work hard and overcome obstacles to compete at the highest level. Though, this is the third time the team has qualified to the knockout stage of the competition, their performance in this edition were far superior and desirous which if we’re serious as a footballing nation should be a foundation for future excellence.

With the Paris Olympic games around the corner, the bickering between the NFF and the coaching crew before the competition should stop to enable the team to build on the progress made during the competition. For a team that has been bedeviled by stunted coaching and inadequate preparation, it is crystal clear from the team performance in the competition what proper coaching can do to better the lot of a team. The two parties should mend their fence for the betterment of the team.

Randy Waldrum hinted of his commitment to stay on the job when asked after the match if he’d like to stay beyond this tournament: “Those decisions are for somebody else [but] I’d would like to stay.” was his response.  On the other hands, when contacted, the NFF president said the federation will look at his contract and see what to do.

It is now time for the NFF to honour their commitment and the outstanding amounts for both the players and coaching crews.

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