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Super Falcons…nothing has changed

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[FILE]Nigeria’s defender Chidinma Okeke (2L) speaks to Nigeria’s goalkeeper Chiamaka Nnadozie (L) before a French penalty during the France 2019 Women’s World Cup Group A football match between Nigeria and France, on June 17, 2019, at the Roazhon Park stadium in Rennes, western France. (Photo by FRANCK FIFE / AFP)


Before the final round of matches were concluded last Thursday at the on-going France 2019 Women’s World cup, many football-loving Nigerians fasted and prayed for the Super Falcons to sneak into the next stage of the championship.
 
It was a long wait after the Super Falcons failed to grab a point in their last group match against the host nation, France. It ended 1-0 in favour of France, but many Nigerians took to social media to vent their anger on the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) claiming that the operators worked against the Super Falcons.
 
For some Nigerians, however, what is not right can never be right. “We don’t need to share our ignorance,” former coach of the Super Falcons, Ismaila Mabo told The Guardian. “The rules had been there for years. The VAR was introduced just recently and it had to be obeyed. I watched the match from the beginning to the end and I can recall what happened,” Mabo stated. 
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Mabo spoke before the last match between Chile and Thailand, which ended 2-0 in favour of the South Americans. The result gave the Falcons the golden chance to move into the last 16 and the girls celebrated late into the night. Some Nigerians back home joined in the celebration. But it lasted for only 48 hours. 
 
The Falcons were pitched against Germany in the round of 16, a team that struggled to beat Nigeria in the group stage in 2011, when the World Cup took place in Germany. Then, Coach Uche Eucharia-led team resisted every move by the Germans in front of their home fans in Frankfurt. Even the German coach confessed at the end of the match saying that the Falcons had really improved and that Nigeria would be a team to beat in the World Cup in less than eight years time if the team maintained the same pace and discipline it demonstrated against Germany. The Nigerians went on to beat Canada 1-0 in their last group match in the city of Dresden. That was in 2011.
 
On Saturday, the Falcons failed to give the German’s a good fight in their round of 16 game in France as many Nigerians had expected.Speaking with The Guardian on phone, Coach Edwin Onovwotafe of Cable Football Academy said: “I think this is one of the worst appearances by our Super Falcons at the World Cup. I find it difficult to get over the scenario where experienced players can’t put together passes or even hold onto the ball for 10 seconds. 
 
“After the prayer and fasting that gave the Falcons the luck to reach the last 16, I was expecting the coach to change his tactics. I did not see any fighting spirit in our girls throughout the match against Germany. It was the usual kick and follow style of play. I thought the foreign coach would change all that, but nothing has changed in the team. The man is just pocketing our dollars for nothing.
 
“At this level of our football, I find it difficult to believe that our players still commit foul throws like school children. From my observation, we simply don’t have a good squad that can hold their own at the world stage. Let the truth be told.
 
“How come our national football team was not even aware of the new rules in football about the position a goalkeeper should maintain when a penalty is to be taken? I am referring to our match against France. Who brought the foreign coach in the first place and what have we benefitted now? I agree the NFF gave the girls the best of preparations for the World Cup, but they fumbled by not giving the girls the tutorial they needed on the field of play.”
 
Like in their past records since USA ’99, the Super Falcons could not make it to the quarterfinal stage at France 2019.  Since China 2007 edition of the World Cup, the Falcons have not failed to score a goal at the World Cup. The team led by late coach Effiong Ntiero drew 2-2 with Sweden in their first group match in 2007, but lost their next two matches, including a 0-1 defeat to USA.
 
At Germany 2011, the Falcons led by coach Uche Eucharia lost 0-1 to France in their opening match, 0-1 to Germany in Frankfurt but recorded a 1-0 victory against Canada in their last group match in the city of Dresden.And four years ago in Canada, the Falcons led by another indigenous coach, Godwin Okon drew 3-3 with Sweden before losing 0-2 to Australia and 0-1 to USA in Vancouver.
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