Nigeria’s national women’s team, the Super Falcons, are through to their tenth Africa Women Cup of Nations finals, where they will slug it out with the hosts of this year’s competition, Cameroon, next Saturday.
In the four matches played at the tournament, the team has scored 12 goals and conceded one – very good stats but not so well in terms of the overall quality of the team.
Coach Florence Omagbemi is a veteran of the team, having captained the Falcons for long periods since the women’s game birthed in Nigeria in 1991. In Cameroon, she has led the team against two teams that were a bit organised in tactical approach – Ghana and South Africa. In both games, the team struggled to create chances and was often put under serious pressure even though woman for woman – Nigeria is heads and shoulders above any other African country in terms of talent.
Against Cameroon, who packed the Ahmadou Ahidjo Stadium in Yaounde, for the 1-0 win over Ghana; the Falcons must give more than they have shown to quieten down the vociferous crowd and the enthusiasm of the Lionesses.
To win, we advise Coach Omagbemi should do the following:
Play a 4-4-2 formation
The Falcons lined up in a 4-3-3 formation against South Africa and for long periods, the most potent Nigerian forward, Asisat Oshoala, was left stranded on the right wing. Against Cameroon, who will be robust in the tackle and win their fair share of 50/50 contests, it would suit the players more if Coach Omagbemi starts with a 4-4-2 with the midfield four in a diamond.
Move Chikwelu closer to the attackers
The captain of the Falcons, Rita Chikwelu, is the brightest brain in the team but does not possess the speed to get away from hard-tackling midfielders. She is best when balls are played to her feet so Omagbemi should move her closer to the twin strikers, Desire Oparanozie and Asisat Oshoala. This would ensure that she would use her football sense to put in passes for the two fast forwards to poach on.
Ensure that the press is coordinated
One area that was sorely lacking against South Africa was the inability of the forwards to execute a perfect press. Banyana Banyana elected to play the ball out of defence even though their central defender and captain, Janine Van Wyk is not the fastest. The Falcons should have capitalized on this, but they did not. The press, when it was applied was never applied whole-heartedly and with purpose.
Make sure the full backs stay in position
The only joy that South Africa and Ghana got against the Falcons was putting balls behind the very offensive full backs – Faith Ikidi, on the left and Ugo Njoku, on the right. Omagbemi must ensure that she instructs these players to hold their positions when Cameroon surge forward. They must ensure that the coordination with the central defenders is such that they do not have their opponents running beyond them.
Please use the cutback
The most dangerous pass in football is still the cut back from a crossing position, but the Nigerian forwards have tended to go for glory when a simple cut back should have sufficed and would have been more efficient. With the speed in attack, the forwards should be tasked at looking up at the last moment to pick this passes. If they do this against the rugged Cameroonians, they could just find that the final may become their easiest contest.