FIFA W’Cup: What Went Wrong For Falcons? | Independent Newspapers Limited
Newsletter subscribe


FIFA W’Cup: What Went Wrong For Falcons?

Posted: Jun 20, 2015 at 2:10 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Chibuike Chukwu, Lagos


Nigeria’s Super Falcons, on Tuesday in Vancouver, crashed out of the ongoing FIFA Women’s World Cup in Canada, after placing last in its first round group.

An Abby Wambach volley from Rapinoe corner kick, few seconds before half-time, earned the U.S. a 1-0 victory over Nigeria, meaning the Falcons finished with only one point from three matches in Group D.

Abby Wamabach nods the goal that ended Super Falcons’ sojourn in Canada

Abby Wamabach nods the goal that ended Super Falcons’ sojourn in Canada

The result also meant Nigeria drew one match against Sweden while losing to both Australia and USA 2-0 and 1-0 respectively.

Since the elimination of Falcons, who needed outright victory against USA to qualify, Nigerians have been unanimous in ruing its poor showings at the global stage.

The Super Falcons were pooled in a difficult group, where qualification was not certain from the on-start, but the team is a veteran of all FIFA Women World Cups.

The Indomitable Lioness of Cameroon, making its debut at the FIFA Women World Cup, for instance, reached the second round after beaten Bolivia and Switzerland 6-0 and 2-1 respectively and finishing runners up to Japan in Group C.

Though not a few Nigerians have argued that the Lioness found itself in a relatively easier group, but it should be borne in mind that this is one feat the Falcons never achieved when it debuted at that global stage.

By the 1-0 defeat to USA on Wednesday morning, the Americans have recorded four straight wins against Nigeria, scoring 17 goals and conceding only one.

In the opening match against Sweden, the players demonstrated lack of cohesion. Their ability to handle set pieces was suspect and there was obvious dearth of frequency and precision in their passes, prompting the Scandinavians to lead 2-0 at interval before the match finally ended 3-3.

In the match against Australia, the technical deficiency of the Falcons’ bench was brought to bare, as the Aussies resorted to aerial ball due to their height advantage, which frustrated Nigerian players.

It was in that frustration that Ugo Njoku tip-toed Sam Kerr that led to her red card.

The coach, Edwin Okon, knowing that the Aussies had resorted to aerial ball, would have introduced a player like tall Courtney Dike, whose involvement in the US match gave bite to the attack.

Yes, Francesca Ordega was versatile in that match, she was easily over-run due to her height at the flanks. Even at that, she was left to complete the match. The Australians effectively knew the youthfulness and versatility of Nigerian attackers, especially Oshoala and Oparanozie, so they denied Falcons ball possession. Nigerians found it difficult, if not impossible, to complete two good passes, as they were easily dispossessed.

Okon did not learn from the first match, as the girls gave away too many passes and conceded a lot of corner kicks to the Aussies.

The United States match began as a cagey affair with either team unwilling to give anything away defensively, but USA started to take the initiative in the game and were rewarded in the 45th minute as Abby Wambch ran in at the back post to volley Rapinoe corner kick into the net.

Things went from bad to worse for the Falcons when defender, Sarah Nnodim, was sent off with a second yellow card following a late tackle on Sydney Leroux.

Before the corner kick that led to that decisive goal, the Americans had played about six previous kicks from the corner, suggesting that their coach might have studied the Falcons and knew that the players were weak on corner kicks and dead balls.

The Nigerian coach would have deployed more offensive players that will take the ball away from their vital areas, recalling Onome Ebi’s wrong clearance that led to that decisive corner kick.

But as former coach of the team, Paul Hamilton, said: “Nigeria never prepared for the world cup. How can you plan a world cup with a solitary friendly match? Having found itself in the group, the authorities should have ensured adequate preparation for the team.”

Meanwhile, Kadiri Ikhana, also a former coach of the team, toed a different line, blaming the woeful outing on the group Nigeria found itself.

But the NFF General Secretary, Mohammed Sanusi, indirectly blamed the poor showing of Falcons on technical inefficiency, saying it is high time Nigerian coaches upgraded themselves technically.

“Our coaches should be making sure they upgrade themselves because that is the same all over the world.

They should equip themselves. That is the only way we can avoid the kind of result we had in Canada.”

Similarly, the 1st Vice President of Nigeria Football Federation, Seyi Akinwunmi, said the Falcons needs technical support: “In the Super Falcons, we saw so much potential, youthfulness and ability, but it is clear that while we have conquered Africa, there is still a lot of work to be done in the area of technical support before we can take on the world of Women’s football.”

Meanwhile, Coach Okon says the Super Falcons have learnt invaluable lessons with their ouster from the FIFA Women’s World Cup in Canada, saying: “It was a great experience for us here in Canada.”