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Is Foreign Coach Solution To Falcons’ Woes?

Posted: Jun 21, 2015 at 12:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Chibuike Chukwu,  Lagos

Against all expectations, Super Falcons crashed out of the ongoing FIFA Women’s World Cup in Canada ignominiously.

The team could only manage a point from the three matches played at the tournament, having drawn 3-3 against Sweden in its opening match and lost 2-0 to Australia and 1-0 to USA.

FalconsMiffed by the not too impressive performance against the backdrop of quality players at the team’s disposal, the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) was alleged to have made subterranean moves towards employing Sweden coach, Pia Sundhage, to tinker the team.

However, the Swedish has declined the offer on the premise that she is “not good enough” for the job.

“You know what, today I don’t think I am good enough to coach in Nigeria,” she said.

It was reported that the NFF instructed top level football technocrats to shop for competent coaches for the Flying Eagles, Super Falcons and the Golden Eaglets.

The report had it that the three tacticians were expected to come with their backroom staff but they would work with some Nigerians sent to England for courses in the technical study.

It was also reported that the NFF will outsource the payment of the foreign coaches through Public Private Partnership (PPP) with words rife that the federation chiefs were keeping the names of their partners under wraps until the details were sealed with all those involved.

According to NFF 1st Vice President, Seyi Akinwumi, the football house is mooting a foreign coach for the female national team due to the perceived technical deficiencies observed during the team’s campaign at the Women’s World Cup in Canada.

While the place of a technically sound coach to a team’s achievement cannot be over-emphasised, it is imperative to note that performance in a tournament like the World Cup, in this instance, talking about the Super Falcons, is a function of so many factors.

There is no doubting the fact that the Falcons, as presently constituted, is made up of young, talented and very mobile players, who are hungry for success. It is equally a truth that the team looks very promising. But the question is that could it have performed better under a better condition if other factors were put into consideration?

Some of the factors that can enhance team’s performance at the global stage include but not limited to adequate preparation;  coaches and players welfare; good domestic league; enduring football structure capable of sustaining the growth of the game in the country; and a viable and foresighted football federation.

The proponents of a foreign coach for the team may readily come to the conclusion that since 1991, the female team has been managed by Nigerians without any noticeable result to show for it.

Such coaches as Paul Hamilton, who won Nigeria Silver medal at the 1988 Africa Cup of Nations with the Super Eagles, Kadiri Ikhana, Ismaila Mabo, Uche Eucharia and Edwin Okon, among others, have all coached the team to conquer the continent without similar feat at the global stage.

To them, the inability of the team to replicate the same feat boils down to coaching inefficiency, hence the need to go for expatriate coach.

But they fail to consider other very important factors that could have affected the team’s performance. Starting from the squad that just crashed out of the World Cup, Nigeria was pooled in Group D alongside such heavy weights as USA, Australia and Sweden.

According to Hamilton, the FA should have acknowledged the difficult nature of the group and prepare the team adequately. It was unthinkable that the FA concentrated on the Flying Eagles at the expense of the Falcons.

Before its opening match against Sweden, Nigeria played only one tune-up match against Canada. So how could the lapses noticed during the competition proper be rectified? In this regard, the FA bears the greater blame for the team’s abysmal failure in Canada.

Secondly, there is no vibrant female league, where the home-base players will be playing week-in-week-out. The one being called a league has no proper calendar, hence no sponsor.

The girls only come together when called upon to play matches. Last season’s league season, for instance, is yet to be completed by now.

Even with Jose Mourinho, Alex Ferguson or Pep Guadiola, the Falcons could not have done any magic under such condition. In the United States, for instance, there is a very strong female league and competitions are regular to keep the players in shape. Same goes to other countries like Sweden.

Some of these coaches that earlier handled Falcons have achieved results before. Ikhana, for instance, won African Champions League for Nigeria for the first time after 38-year wait.

Agreed that some Nigerian coaches, as said by NFF Secretary General, Mohammed Sanusi, needs to upgrade technically to withstand modernity, but such upgrading will amount to efforts in futility if, as is presently being witnessed, the nation’s football house lacks good vision and organizational competency to drive various programmes and structures that can enhance the growth of not only female football but the round leather game generally in the country.

Conclusively, the problem of the female national team goes beyond coaching to include poor football administration in the country.