ANALYSIS: Nigeria caused Falcons poor start at AWCON

Falcons
Super Falcons

Anyone attuned to the workings of a computer understands ‘GIGO’ – Garbage in, garbage out – it is in the proportion of what you invest that you can harvest. Just as the Super Eagles will continue to thrive, the stock of the Falcons will continue to depreciate because the focus of the Nigeria Football Federation NFF] is on their ‘cash cow’ – the Super Eagles.
The Nigeria women’s senior football team, the Falcons, lost their opening match at the 2018 Africa Women’s Cup of Nations on Sunday, 1-0 to South Africa; while on Saturday the Super Eagles held the Bafana Bafana to a 1-1 draw to qualify for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations Cup.

Put it in better emphasis, it is the first time in the 11 editions of AWCON that the Falcons have lost in a first group match – it is also the fourth loss suffered by that team in the 11 editions, of which they have won eight.

For a full understanding of the total disregard for the Falcons, we need to look at the friendly [competitive] matches played by the team since they last won the AWCON.

While their conquerors, South Africa, have played the likes of France, Korea DPR, Belgium, Cameroon, Sweden, etc. for a total of 16 games, the Falcons won the AWCON in 2017 but till the biennial tournament started on Sunday played only four matches!

Do Nigerians know the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup is ongoing, and that the Flamingoes are absent? Nigerians should know it is what you put in you must expect.

Sincerely, the NFF cannot say they expected anything better even with the appointment of a foreign manager for the Falcons – a PR stunt at best. The Swede, Thomas Dennerby, after leading the Falcons to the historic loss was ‘disappointed’ the match did not end in a draw.

“I am very disappointed that we lost the game. It would have been fair if the game had ended in a draw. I think everybody will agree that we should have scored at least once in the first half and we missed that chance.” Consider this statement from a Nigerian manager? But that is talk for another day.

Just before the tournament kicked off, there was an outcry when Nigerians saw their national team dressed like a rag-tag army at the airport. There are also unconfirmed reports that the NFF has not paid the players their camp bonuses but the Super Eagles earn $5,000 for drawn matches!

In a piece in Premium Times before the tournament kicked off, Tayo Adetunji almost predicted this situation the Falcons have found themselves, with a great helping hand from the NFF.

“There is no roadmap to determine what we want to achieve with the ladies. We all know all efforts are being geared towards the Super Eagles qualifying for the Nations Cup and by extension, the next World Cup [the Eagles have since then qualified for Cameroon 2019].

After achieving the victory over Nigeria, South Africa’s manager, Desiree Ellis said, “We always knew we had it in us, it took a moment of brilliance to decide the match and we planned really well.” The key words are, they planned.

Complacency

“However, for the ladies, we have taken it for granted that they will always qualify on the African soil. The World Cup is just a by-product. So, there is complacency by our administrators who should really know better,” Adetunji says.

But complacency does not do the situation justice; total disregard would be more encapsulating. By nature, the Falcons will not lay low for long as they have enough talent to put this setback behind them and march on.

FIFA ranks the Falcons as the best in Africa (No.38 in the world), 12 places above South Africa. But with this NFF attitude of complete disregard, not only will the Falcons be de-feathered, they will become caged household birds – unable to soar as their name predicts.

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