Football enthusiasts in Enugu and Abuja, on Monday expressed dismay over the Super Falcons of Nigeria’s 2-1 loss to Banyana Banyana of South Africa at the ongoing African Women Cup of Nations (WAFCON) in Morocco.
They said it was time to groom new and energetic players for the national team.
CEO of Enugu Coal City Girls Okechukwu Nnamani said the players showed weakness in strength and needed to be replaced with vibrant and energetic players, noting that “it seems like age is catching up on the players and they failed to withstand the fire power of the South Africans.”
“I know that we can do better than this with the home-based players in a well organised league. We have to come back home and fix a lot of things that have gone wrong,” explained Mr Nnamani. “Before, we used to hammer teams 5-0 but these days, those teams are now thrashing us and this shows that we are going down in female football.”
Ignatius Okpara, ex-secretary of Sports Writers Association of Nigeria (SWAN), said the girls’ performance was dismal.
“We have players who can do better than this set of players in the league, I do not know why we so much depend on foreign players. The coach should have talked to the girls after the interval to remove anxiety in their approach to the game,” he said.
Mr Okpara advised the team handlers to go back to the drawing board and correct the lapses and ensure that the girls finished well at the championship.
Enugu boxing coach Blaise Ude said the game had been played and that the team should redeem themselves with the remaining matches of the group.
“There is no need to cry over spilled milk, so the only solution is for the team to come up better in subsequent matches in the group. Thank God, it is the first match of the group stage and not a knockout stage,” stated Mr Ude. “We still have room to achieve our target at the championship with determination.”
Coach Anistar Izuikem of Stars Plus FC of Ngwo expressed shock over the loss to South Africa, saying, “These girls defeated us at the group stage in Ghana and at the Aisha Buhari Football Tournament but we thought it was a fluke.”
Mr Izuikem added, “Now, we know they mean business and the technical crew should not sleep over it because it is going to cause the country a lot. This is the only game we have been dominating in Africa and now we are at the verge of relinquishing the superiority, something has to be done.”
The result also meant that the South Africans have now recorded back-to-back wins against Nigeria after they defeated the Super Falcons 4-2 in the Aisha Buhari Cup Invitational in 2021.
The result was similar to that of 2018 WAFCON where Banyana Banyana pipped the Super Falcons 1-0 in their opening game.
Victor Thompson, a public servant, singled out Asisat Oshoala for criticism, saying she failed to bring her A-game into the match and let her teammates down at critical moments in the game.
“Oshoala for me was the worst player on the pitch today. She failed to shine as she missed several clear cut opportunities in front of goal. The Barcelona star indeed was ineffective and had a disappointing game,” said Mr Thompson. “She was the biggest star on the pitch and much was expected of her, but she failed to live up to the hype and expectations of Nigerians. I hope she can quickly put this disappointing game behind her and show us what she is capable of in their two remaining group games.”
Rita Akintujoye, a businesswoman, said the Falcons were technically as well as tactically deficient and did not show enough hunger to win the game.
“It was a lackadaisical performance from a team that had a lot of technical and tactical issues. The Falcons had no playmaker as Rita Chikwelu failed to offer any creative spark in the game and rightly deserved to be taken off,” noted Ms Akintujoye. “The team, in my opinion, relied so much on Oshoala who failed to deliver. Infact, the first team choice for me was wrong from the onset. Coach Randy Waldrum made a mistake by leaving the likes of Francisca Ordega and Uchenna Kanu on the bench. You could see the impact of both players when they were introduced very late into the game.”
Femi Oyelade, an entrepreneur, said it was a reality check for the nine-time champions, adding that he was hopeful that they would bounce back from the defeat and perform better as they progress in the tournament.
“The Super Falcons suffered a reality check today against a young Banyana Banyana side who have proven to be a thorn in our flesh in recent times,” added Mr Oyelade. “They are the defending champions and the team to beat, but they were brought down to earth by the South Africans, who indeed earned a well deserved win I must say.”
He added, “All eyes were on Oshoala, but the Barcelona Femeni star was disappointing to say the least as she had a couple of chances in the game but could not make it count. The team, generally speaking, looked rusty and it’s fair to say their errors in the second half cost them the game. I hope they will go back to the drawing board, make the necessary adjustments and bounce back quickly from this defeat just as they did in 2018.”
Amaka Obiekwe, a student, noted that the Falcons’ defence line was poor, adding that only Michelle Alozie and Ashleigh Plumptre showed some flash of brilliance.
“The two centre-backs were a mess, failing to cope with the speed and skill of the South Africans. Onome Ebi, the captain, was unaware of her surroundings for the first goal and out of position for the second. She lacked positional awareness and the speed to match the athletic South Africans,” said Ms Obiekwe.
She added, “Alozie, the American fullback was solid defensively in the first half and looked good going forward. However, she was at fault for South Africa’s second goal as she was caught out of position. Plumptre was by far our best defender on the night, inspite playing in an unfamiliar left-back role. She was comfortable and calm with the ball. However, she was beaten too easily for the first goal.”
The Super Falcons will next face debutants Botswana while South Africa take on Burundi.
Source: Peoples Gazette.