Falcons must retain dominance, bragging rights at Morocco 2022 — New Telegraph Editorial

Posted by News Express | 4 March 2022 | 272 times

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•Super Falcons

 

Last week, the senior national women’s football team of Nigeria, the Super Falcons, played Cote d’Ivoire in one of the qualifying games for Morocco 2022. Before the game, Nigerians were scared because the Ivoriens scored 20 goals against Niger in their last qualifiers while Nigeria only managed to score just two against Ghana.

However, it was indeed a sweet victory against a team that was the highest scoring side in the qualifiers. And so Super Falcons in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire defeated Lady Elephants 1-0 to secure their passage to the 2022 Africa Women’s Cup of Nations scheduled to take place in Morocco from July 2 to 23. Chiamaka Nnadozie played a crucial role after saving a first half penalty before Esther Okoronkwo registered the team’s only goal in the 87th minute of the game as Nigeria qualified 3-0 on aggregate.

We recall that to get to this stage, the Super Falcons defeated Ghana 2-1 on aggregate and will be looking forward to winning their 10th AWCON title in Morocco. No doubt, the Falcons have come a long way in women’s football but it must be stressed that other countries are fast catching up. At the Aisha Buhari Cup staged last year in Lagos, the Banyana Banyana of South Africa took Falcons to the cleaners with an emphatic 4-2 victory. Nobody saw that coming but it was indeed a clear reality check. We must say that there is a need to inject more young players into the Falcons to boost the overall mobility of the team.

There should be more girls strong enough to withstand any opposition. The injection of Ashleigh Plumptre has been a big boost to the team and one or two more strong players are needed in the team. Vivian Ikechukwu and other promising stars should be encouraged to do more. Unfortunately though, the Falcons cannot even be regarded as favourites for the forthcoming AWCON in Morocco and so we expect that Manager Randy Waldrum and the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) will step up efforts to make the team better and stronger. The NFF must ensure the team has adequate preparation if the dream of winning the 10th title is to be achieved.

Sadly after the heartwarming victory over Cote d’Ivoire in Abidjan, a show of shame was recorded at the airport. The Falcons arrived at about 12 midnight at the Abuja International Airport and were delayed for three hours because of COVID-19 protocols.

That was so unfair because the NFF officials should have worked towards ensuring a smooth passage for the players and officials who were already tired after a two-hour flight. We expect the NFF to double efforts to ensure the country’s bragging rights are retained in women’s football on the continent at the forthcoming AWCON in Morocco. Cameroon and South Africa are strong oppositions that could derail the country’s dreams of attaining a 10th title. The preparation to excel must start now. We recall that in the past two decades, Nigeria’s Super Falcons have dominated the women’s football scene in Africa.

The country took part in 11 Africa Women’s Nations Cup tournaments and won nine titles with Equatorial Guinea winning two. No other African country has won the coveted trophy. Any match involving any country with Nigeria is considered won but this is fast becoming a thing of the past. Ghana, South Africa and Cameroon have also developed so well in women’s football such that they compete with the Falcons of Nigeria. These three countries have beaten Nigeria in women’s football at one time or the other. Equatorial Guinea had a case of a hermaphrodite in their team and so it’s not fair to compare the tainted team with the Falcons.

They also defeated Nigeria during one of the two AWCON wins. The last Olympic Games were held in Tokyo, Japan, and it was the Lady Elephants from Cote d’Ivoire that stopped Nigeria from taking part in the football event of the games. The Ivoriens did not beat Falcons but rather edged them out on away goals rule by playing 0-0 in Abidjan and 1-1 in Lagos. No doubt, the gap between the Falcons and other women’s national teams on the continent has been narrowed to the barest minimum. Fans of the round leather game are now uncertain on what to expect when the Falcons file out. They now fear teams like Cameroon, Ghana, South Africa and Cote d’Ivoire.

The bragging rights and dominance are fast fading off. The transition from the age grade to the Falcons must be improved upon for Nigeria to retain its rightful place in Africa. Women Football is evolving every day and as it is, recording a wide margin victory against teams is becoming tough, especially at a big stage like AWCON. The implication is that those at the top will have to do something extra to remain tops. We expect a deliberate effort to be made to boost the women’s league while women football should also be encouraged in schools so that there are multiple channels to identify talents for the various national teams.


Source: News Express

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