The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) have announced the sacking of Super Falcons coach, Edwin Okon, after the Super Falcons failed to qualify from their group in the ongoing FIFA Women’s World Cup in Canada after disappointing defeats to Australia and the United States.
Okon will be replaced by his assistant, Christopher Danjuma who takes over on an interim basis until a permanent replacement is found. Danjuma will be in charge of the Olympics qualifier match between the Super Falcons and Equitorial Guinea.
In as much as Okon should be commended for guiding the Nigeria women’s team to victory at the African Women’s Championship in Namibia last year, he showed at the Women’s World Cup that he was way out of his depth.
He failed to get his team’s defence organised in all their group games with opposing teams exploiting their defensive naivety at will especially from set plays. Two of Sweden’s three goals in the Super Falcons’ opening game came from ‘schoolgirl’ defending during set plays.
He also failed to get the best out of a Nigerian attack which was feared by not a few teams in the tournament. The attack which showed a lot of promise in the first game after forcing Sweden to a 3-3 draw was toothless in their remaining matches against Australia and the USA.
These and his poor tactics convinced the NFF to show him the exit door. Okon can’t have too many complaints since fellow rivals, Cameroun, in their first appearance at the Women’s Wold Cup, exceeded expectations to qualify from their group.
Nigeria has never gone beyond the quarter finals of the Women’s World Cup, a feat it last achieved in 1999. In Africa, Nigeria has been dominant but at the world stage, where it really counts, the Super Falcons have fallen short.
One of the reasons for this persistent failure at the top level is the tactical incompetence of the Nigerian coaches who have been in charge of the Super Falcons over the years.
The Falcons teams which have always represented Nigeria at the World Cup have rarely been poor technically but talent alone does not win you tournaments. Talent can help a team win against inferior opposition but it might not be enough when they are up against equal or superior teams.
Nigeria has to find a solution to the ineptitude of its football coaches since the hiring of foreign coaches remains out of the question especially in female football.
It appears that most Nigerian coaches are content with mediocrity and are not willing to update their knowledge on the current trends of the modern game. They need to invest in themselves and stop depending on the NFF to sponsor them to coaching courses.
We hope that the Super Falcons will bounce back from their early ouster from the World Cup in Canada and qualify for the Olympics in Brazil next year and do better than previous showings in the female soccer event.
Paul Oviero works and lives in Lagos. He is an ardent follower of Nigerian football and a fan of Manchester United. He writes articles about football regularly on his blog at paulovieroskoles.blogspot.com