Super Falcons’ failure not a surprise, says Esu

[FILE] Super Falcons

• ‘We need to change our approach to coaches’ selection’
Three years ago, Coach Christopher Danjuma failed to qualify the Super Falcons for the Rio 2016 Olympics Games in Brazil, after the team suffered a 2-1 defeat in Equatorial Guinea to crash out on 3-2 aggregate.

The failure in 2016 completed a back-to-back Olympic disappointment for the Super Falcons, as the girls were shown the exit doors four years earlier in the race to London 2012 Olympics under Coach Uche Eucharia.

As it were in 2016, Coach Danjuma again led the Super Falcons to another failure on Monday, this time in the hands of Les Femelles Elephantes of Cote d’Ivoire, a country that is relatively unknown in women football. A 1-1 draw at the Agege Stadium in Lagos, after the Falcons played a 0-0 draw a few days ago in Abidjan, was the least expected result from the African champions. It means Nigerian women won’t be on parade for a third time in a row at the Olympic Games.

Super Falcons elimination from the race to Tokyo 2020 has generated a lot of reactions from Nigerians. While some are putting the blame on the doorsteps of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) for assigning the national team job to ‘a mediocre coach,’ others are of the view that the Women Football department of the NFF needs a total overhaul.

However, former coach of Shooting Stars of Ibadan and Julius Berger of Lagos, Godfery Esu says Super Falcons’ failure was a reflection of the current state of Nigerian football.

“I am not surprised the Super Falcons were beaten by Cote d’Ivoire,” Esu told The Guardian yesterday. “We need to change our attitude, especially when it comes to assigning coaches to the national teams. There are too many mediocre coaches in the national teams.”

In 2015, Cote d’Ivoire recorded her first major breakthrough in women football, when the girls beat Nigeria 2-1 to win the bronze medal and ensure the Super Falcons returned from the All Africa Games empty-handed.

Super Falcons’ defeat to Cote d’Ivoire on Monday came barely a few days after Cape Verde eliminated Nigeria from the 2019 WAFU Cup. The Home-based Super Eagles had earlier suffered a 1-4 loss to the Hawks of Togo.

Among other things, some Nigeria are accusing coach Danjuma of bringing in players from his club, Nasarawa Amazons, to replace a majority of the players from Rivers Angels, who won the last qualifier against Algeria.

Esu stated that the NFF Technical Department should be blamed for the latest freefall being witnessed in Nigerian football. “Most of the coaches do not have the technical knowledge to lead our national teams. And those in the NFF Technical Department seem to have compromised standard because they look at faces rather than the technical ability of people in picking the coaches for the various positions.

“I am blaming the NFF board also for this freefall because part of the money they realised from CAF and FIFA should have been used in sending the coaches on refresher courses. The world is changing in football but sadly, Nigeria is moving backwards. As I said, there is the need for us to change our attitude to national service,” Esu stated.

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