By Dele Ologbese
In what looks like thunderbolts, the less fancied South African’s National Women team, Bayana Bayana fought like Trojan horse by mercilessly beating reigning African Women Champions, Super Falcons of Nigeria 4-2 to emerge winners of 1st Edition of Alisha Buhari Invitational Tournament on Tuesday, September 21, 2021 at the Mobolaji Johnson’s Arena, Onikan, Lagos. Top football and Governments officials and administrators, captains of industries including ardent football supporters and fans who thronged the newly reconstructed Onikan pitch left in total disgust and anger over what they perceived of hapless performances of Super Falcons in the game. Their utter disbelief and disappointments was primarily base on the fact that it might take the American gaffer, Randy Waldrum some time to build a crack and reliable squard which can survive test of time.
After the newly rejuvenated South Africans trounced Ghana 2- 0 in its opening game of the tournament, no one ever gave any reasonable thought Super Falcons could embarrassingly fell to the superior hands of their visitors at the closing ceremony’s match on Tuesday, September 15, 2021.
It was indeed a calamitous outings for the Falcons that met a highly determined and well focused side which fought gallantly in the highly energy sapping tie. The South Africans were very desperate to win the cup and they relied heavily on counter attacks which paid off at the end of the day. It was obvious to all stakeholders that the team lacked technical and tactical depths that can win any major tournament presently. It is mindblogging that overrated stars like Bacelona’s gangling striker, Oshoola Assisat, Desire Oparanoze, Francisca Ortega, Rita Chukeuelu and other old players flopped at the game through poor marksmanship, defensive blunders and exhaustions which robbed them of victory.
There is no denying the truism that some of the players are ageing having continuously playing for Falcons in the last ten years or more. Inasmuch as dimmishing returns had started crippling in owing to low productivity one expects that these unproductive players should have been removed towards paving way for dedicated and energetic professionals. Though this approach might proved counterproductive if services of all concerned players are dispensed with in full swing without considering experiences, skills and exposures.of few of them. Notwithstanding, the ball is in the court of the American gaffer, Randy Waldrum to immidiately go back to the drawing board in identifying those surplus to requirements with a view to replacing them with those who can easily deliver the goods.
For Super Falcons to qualify for the 9th Edition of Female World Cup in Australia/New Zealand in 2023 including Women African Nations Cup in Morocco in July 2022 where four teams to represent Africa would be decided, Waldrum should quickly inject new blood into the team. Fortunately enough, Nigeria is blessed with arrays of talented foreign professionals who are doing fantastically well in their respective clubs. It is highly depressing that the team’s coach still relies on old folks whose productivity had nosedived in recent years.
I recalled, I wrote in April this year where I suggested the need for the former Trinidad and Tobago’s tactician, Waldrum to look for highly enterprising players from Nigeria’s Women League to beef up the side towards enhancing stability and cohesion of the team. It is quite exciting that Aisha Buhari Cup had provided potent platform for discovery of two local talents- Gift Monday of FC Robo and Vivian Ikechukwu of Rivers Angels who scored vital two goals each in Nigeria’s matches against Mali and South Africa. I am cocksure the two domestic players would play formidable roles in the envisioned new team.
Apart from carrying out total overhauling of the team for higher performance through injections of quality players, the apex football authority, NFF should endeavour to arrange few top graded friendly matches for it towards putting it in proper shape for forthcoming continental engagements.
Despite its humiliating defeat by South Africa at the final match of Aisha Buhari Cup on Tuesday, Super Falcons remains reigning African champions. In head to head records between both nations, Nigeria maintains superiority over South African apart from the fact that it had tract records of winning Africa Women Nations Cup nine times a feat yet to be attained by any African country.
The victory of South Africa over Nigeria in this friendly encounter should therefore be rightly viewed as a temporary setback and one believes if the team puts its acts together on time it would bounced back into reckoning in due course.
Though Super Falcons disgracefully lost to its age long arch rivals, Bayana Bayana, the outcome of the match had vividly confirmed that there is no more minors in African football and that our team should at all times be well prepared for every competition. It also shows that women football is fast growing or developing in Africa especially in South Africa which is poised to dethrone Nigeria in nearest future.
On this note, South African’s Woman team should be applauded for its resilent and determination in becoming a force to be reckoned with in African football.
OTUNBA DELE OLOGBESE is the Chairman, Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), Ondo State.