Izilien queries NFF’s choice of Danjuma as Falconets coach
• I wish him the best, says Mabo
Last year, Coach Christopher Danjuma was the focus of attention, but for a wrong reason: He failed to qualify the senior women’s national team, Super Falcons, for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. His team lost the ticket to the 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 earlier in Abidjan, was the least expected result from the African champions. The failure was the third time in a row for the Falcons on the road to the Olympic Games.
In the qualifier for Rio 2016 Olympics Games in Brazil, Danjuma’s team also lost 1-2 in Equatorial Guinea to crash out of the race on a 3-2 aggregate. Danjuma had previously led the Super Falcons to a humiliating fourth place finish at the All Africa Games in Brazzaville in September 2015.
Before his elevation to the senior team, Danjuma had served as head coach of the U-20 Women National Team, Falconets.
The Danjuma-led Falconets only made up the numbers at the France 2018 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup, where they crashed out in the quarterfinal after putting all foots wrong in their match against Spain, a team they defeated two years earlier in Papua New Guinea. The Falconets had reached the final of the FIFA U-20 World Cup in 2010 and 2014.
The decision of the NFF to bring Danjuma back to the women national team despite his poor records is not going down well with many football-loving Nigerians.
Former Super Falcons coach, Godwin Izilien, who led Nigeria to win the African Women’s Nations Cup title in Johannesburg, South Africa in 2004, feels Danjuma’s return is not normal.
“It’s like a recurring decimal in our football system for coaches that couldn’t achieve anything in their previous assignment are being brought back to lead the national teams, and it is abnormal,” Izilien told The Guardian yesterday.
“This country belongs to all of us. The NFF should give other coaches the chance to prove their mettle instead of recycling people, who have failed in the past. What special achievement has Danjuma made to warrant his return to the Falconets so soon? This is not fair to our football,” he stated.
However, Coach Ismaila Mabo, who led the Super Falcons to the quarterfinal at U.S. ’99 FIFA Women’s World Cup, says the decision to appoint anybody for the national teams rests squarely on the NFF, adding that the football house may have seen some qualities in Danjuma to warrant his recall.
“Let’s give Danjuma the chance to prove his mettle once again. I won’t say much. I wish Danjuma and the NFF the best of luck,” Mabo stated.