Football Kings of West Coast Football Kings of West Coast By Chukwuemeka Opara, News Agency of Nigeria Nigerian soccer fans direly needed succour when the Super Eagles, bungled a veritable opportunity to appear in its seventh World Cup final in Qatar.
The Eagles disastrously drew 1-1 with the Black Stars of Ghana in Abuja on March 29, in one of the African playoffs for the November, 2022 mundial.
The team had drawn 0-0 with the Ghanians four days earlier in Kumasi thereby eliminated on the infamous away goals rule.
The fans were aghast, with those inside the Moshood Abiola Stadium, Abuja, going berserk.
They destroyed stadium facilities and anger was palpable across the nation.
After darkness comes light, as the old adage goes.
But there seemed to be no light at the end of this tunnel.
The distraught fans needed succour.
The Eagles next engagements were two international friendlies against World Cup bound Mexico and Ecuador in the United States of America in May and AFCON 2023 qualifiers against Sierra Leone and Sao Tome in June. There were however two sub-regional youth competitions in between: The West African Football Union (WAFU) Zone B, U-17 and U-20 championships.
In this two competitions to be hosted in Niamey, Niger Republic and Cape Coast, Ghana respectively, the two finalists would qualify for the African U-20 and U-17 championships in 2023. These were competitions of lesser magnitude, but to an average Nigerian football fan, every victory mattered.
The question sprouted: Would the Flying Eagles and Golden Eaglets be ready?
The apprehension was somewhat confirmed.
The Flying Eagles only resumed camping with barely three weeks to the competition in May. Coach Ladan Bosso hurriedly invited players to camp.
He lamented the shortness of the preparatory period, but vowed to present a team which would spring surprises.
Coach Nduka Ugbade, also lamented, but made the same promise on the Golden Eaglets.
To the average Nigeria fan, the preparatory period was too short for both teams to make impact.
The interest waned.
The Flying Eagles however, kicked off the competition in Niamey with a 2-0 spanking of defending champions Ghana on May 8. The team drew 2-2 with Burkina Faso to qualify for the semi-finals, where it beat an enterprising Ivorian team 2-1 to qualify for the final.
This final qualification also earned it a berth at the African U-20 championships in Egypt in 2023. The team outclassed Benin Republic 3-1 in the final to win the competition.
The triumph took many fans by surprise.
Joy was restored even if on a minute scale.
The wish was for the Golden Eaglets to follow suit in June. The joy could perhaps be restored in full.
The Eaglets fortunately took the cue and took the WAFU Zone B, U-17 competition by storm.
The team on June 11, whitewashed hosts Ghana 4-2. It defeated Togo 3-1 to qualify for the semifinal where it humbled Cote d’ Ivoire 3-1. The team sensationally beat a stubborn Burkina Faso 2-1 in the final to win the competition.
Thus, the new kings of the West African sub region football had emerged.
The News Agency of Nigeria sought the views of football fans in Ebonyi on both teams and steps to be taken by relevant authorities to ensure that the kingship extends to the African continent and perhaps, the world.
Chaka Nweze, Pioneer Secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Ebonyi congratulated the Golden Eaglets for the feat, noting that they duly followed the footsteps of their immediate seniors, the Flying Eagles.
Nweze, also former Chairman of Ohaozara Local Goverment Area of the state, said the victories of both teams showed that the astute ‘can do’ spirit of Nigerians always stand them out among their peers.
Nweze said both teams showed astuteness in their resolve to win the competitions right from the preparations.
“I watched the Flying Eagles training in Abuja before the competition.
Despite the short period of preparation, they showed tenacity to succeed.
One could see aggression, commitment and efficacy in their approach.
“They dismembered teams they played in their trial matches.
The team continued from where it stopped at the competition proper and beat all opponents to emerge champions,” he said.
The soccer enthusiast said that the Golden Eaglets had a similar experience that was even more precarious.
Bosso had the luxury of picking more established players for the Flying Eagles, but Ugbade had the challenge of raising a team from a pool of rookies who are in schools and academies.
“Ugbade who captained the Eaglets to win the inaugural FIFA Kodak U-16 World Cup in 1985, also contended with the initial setback of the Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI).
Most of his first team players reportedly failed the MRI scan and he had to raise a formidable team within such a short period,” he said.
The former Super Eagles fullback still raised a team which tore opponents to tatters in the trial matches and in the regional championship in Ghana, Nweze noted.
He advised coaches of both teams to sustain such domineering posture when they compete at the CAF and world championships.
Brendan Okafor, a football historian, also commended both teams for their splendid performances at the sub regional competitions and urged them to follow the steps of their predecessors who reigned in the continent and in the world.
Okafor recalled that the national youth teams which dominated the sub region in respective competitions in the past, also did so in continental and world competitions.
“The Flying Eagles that won bronze at the World Youth Championship in 1985 were the best in the sub region and won the African Youth Championship.
“The competition was then contested on a home and away basis.
The 1989 set to the competition also won the African championship then called the ‘Tessema Cup’ and gallantly lost to Portugal in the final of the World Youth Championship in Saudi Arabia.
“The 2005 set also conquered Africa en route another silver medal win at the World Youth Championship in Holland.
“The Golden Eaglets squad that took the world by storm and won the inaugural FIFA U-16 World Cup in China in 1985 were the best in Africa.
So also were the squads which also conquered the world in Japan 1993, South Korea 2007, United Arab Emirates 2013 and Chile 2015,” he said.
Okafor advised that just as the above mentioned successful teams, the coaches should retain the bulk of the players who ruled the sub region.
“We floundered in the past when teams were disbanded or their blending arrangements distorted before major competitions.
“The Flying Eagles and Golden Eaglets coaches must had noticed areas of weakness and should strengthen the affected departments in their teams.
They must ensure that the players who would be drafted to fortify the teams are better than the ones they are replacing.
“There should be no place for quota system in the set-ups.
The best players, no matter their geo-political inclinations should be selected.
Undue interferences from political and related interests should be jettisoned,” he said.
Martin Agunanne, former Rangers International Feeders team player, praised the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) for appointing experienced and competent coaches for both national teams.
“Coach Ladan Bosso had garnered enough experience to assemble a formidable team.
Having failed with the Flying Eagles in 2007 and 2020, Bosso knew that this might be his last opportunity to impress as a national team handler.
“He quickly set to work with the present team and with less than three weeks to the competition in Niger Republic, produced a team that oozed talents from all departments.
“Nduka Ugbade follows in the same streak.
He was an assistant to Manu Garba when the Eaglets conquered the world in 2013. “He subsequently moved with Garba yet as assistant to the Flying Eagles in 2015. It is instructive to note that Emmanuel Amuneke who was also an assistant to Garba in 2013, went on to defend the title as the Eaglets head coach in 2015,” he said.
Agunanne advised both coaches to monitor the players who ensured victories for their teams.
“The period between these periods of conquests and the continental championships in 2023 is far and the players if not monitored, might derail.
“The players’ progress at their various clubs should be monitored to ensure that they stay fit and focused because the opposition at the continental championships would be tougher.
“The coaches should be in steady contact with the various clubs where these players ply their trades to ensure they are ready to conquer Africa and the world.
“The coaches should also use this free period to scout for players to fortify areas of deficiency and not to distort the laid down team building process,” he said.
Mrs Jane Ofoke, a teacher and football enthusiast, called for prayers and adequate support for both teams as they represent the hope of happiness.
“Between the World Cup qualification ouster and the recent floundering of the Super Falcons in the recently concluded African Women Cup of Nations (AWCON) in Morocco, football fans had been disillusioned over our teams’ performances.
“Successes in the African U-20 and U-17 championships in 2023 will bring joy to Nigerians and keep the country in good stead of credible performances at both world championships.
The players need prayers to maintain their current form and be free from injuries.
“The NFF and the sports ministry should adequately motivate the players and officials.
A situation where the Golden Eaglets were reportedly rewarded with N40, 000 for their conquest in Ghana is appalling.
It will not motivate the players.
“The only motivating factor to them will be to excel at the competitions, to secure lucrative deals either at home or abroad.
“The coaches of both teams should be sent to refresher courses abroad to gain more exposure and be in tune with modern dynamics of the game.
Redundancy will definitely affect their abilities to compete at the continental and world levels,” he said.
Unarguably, with motivation, the two teams will maintain their lead as the Football Kings of the West Coast.
(NANFeatures) ** If used, please credit the writer as well as the News Agency of Nigeria .
The President, Nigeria Pitch Awards, Shina Philips, has blamed the ouster of the Super Falcons of Nigeria from the on-going African Women Cup of Nations (AWCON) on tactical deficiency.Phillips, in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria on Tuesday in Lagos, said the Super Falcons’ semi-final loss to Atlas Lionesses of Morocco was due to the team’s lack of structure.NAN reports that Super Falcons were reduced to nine women by the 70th minute but held on to a 1-1 score line until they succumbed to a 4-5 penalty loss to the Moroccans.Phillips said Super Falcons, nine-time AWCON winners of the competition, were not technically sound enough to defeat the home team that came with a script to snatch the much needed victory.“There are many gaps in the team because they are not technically sound enough because they struggled right from the first game they lost to the South African team.“The defeat was basically similar to the Super Eagles’ World Cup loss to Ghana.It means we are not always prepared for major tournaments.“We need to face the reality and stop celebrating mediocrities; our past glories.We should know that we are no longer invincible in the female football circle,” he said.Phillips said that the current Super Falcons were not world class team, hence the need to rejig the team.“The current Super Falcons cannot give us what we need because the South Africans should not have beaten us if we had prepared.“We have dominated in the past, but others are fast catching up because they put in structures and programmes for development.“The loss in Morocco should be an eye-opener to the football administrators to return to the drawing board and find out where we have missed it.“Nigeria also need to copy from the developmental programmes by advanced countries and make sure we developed our football to an enviable height,” he said.NAN reports that the Super Falcons of Nigeria will play a third place match against the She Polopolo of Zambia at the weekend.NewsSourceCredit: NAN
Randy Waldrum, the Head Coach of the Nigeria National Women’s Football Team, Super Falcons, on Thursday said the team was ready for the 2022 Africa Women Cup of Nations (AWCON) in Morocco.
Waldrum disclosed this to newsmen at the Moshood Abiola National Stadium in Abuja after the two friendlies against Niaja Ratels and Baylesa Queens.
NAN reports that Super Falcons beat Naija Ratels 2-1 in the first match and drew 1-1 against Bayelsa Queens in the second match.
The coach said they were trying to evaluate the players ahead of the championship.
“They are going to play so many players, we appreciate the Bayelsa Queens and Naija Ratels for helping us preparing for the tournament.
“We have a little bit of work to do and picking numbers right away on the scale of 10 , we are seven or eight.
“The matches we played enable us to evaluate the level of readiness of the team for the championship.
“These two games played today gave us a way to evaluate areas of concentration on the team,” he said.
He said the team could be under pressure presently because it was necessary to win the championship again.
“We are always in a pressure, we understand the pressure they come with and I also understand their responsibility to the whole country.
“Supporting the team is to win it for the tenth time.We have to cope and manage thier pressure,” he said.
Onome Ebi, the captain of the team, said they were ready to work with team spirit to make the country proud.
She said South Africa are their permanent rival in all the AWCON championships.
“We have been working hard as a team for this competition, I believe we will go there (Morocco) and have a good performance.
“With the spirit of team work, high motivation, I think we can beat South Africa,” she said .
She said they won’t have any excuse not to perform well in the championship.
“I’m statisfied with the set of players in the team, we have young players, we have experienced players, we have fast players.
“We are well prepared because we had a lot of trainings.
“The technical crew, the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) have done their part , I think we are good to go and make the country proud,” she said.
NAN reports that Super Falcons have won the African title nine times.
Nigeria will meet South Africa in their first match on July 4 at the Prince Heritier Moulay Hassan Stadium in Rabat.
Nigeria will then face Botswana on July 7 and Burundi on July 10, in their Group C fixture at the Prince Heritier Moulay Hassan Stadium.
Nigeria is also gunning for a spot at the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup, as the semifinalists at the 2022 WAFCON will automatically represent Africa in Australia and New Zealand.
The countdown to AWCON 2022, Africa's largest women's sporting event, is underway with less than a month to go. The CAF tournament kicks off on July 2 in Morocco, with the final match scheduled for July 23.
Following the successful AFCON men's tournament earlier this year in Cameroon, Morocco 2022 will be the biggest tournament with expansion to 12 participating teams. Host Morocco will face debutants Burkina Faso, Senegal and Uganda in Group A, while Group B will be made up of Cameroon, Zambia, Tunisia and Togo, the fourth team to reach the Nations Cup final.
Pre-tournament favorites Nigeria are grouped with South Africa, whom the Super Falcons beat 4-3 on penalties to lift the trophy four years ago after a 0-0 draw in Accra, Ghana. First-time qualifiers Burundi and Botswana complete the lineup in Group C.
The event is being televised across Africa free-to-air by the African Union of Broadcasters, with the support of Afrosport, and will set a new record for the largest television audience for a women's sporting event on the continent.
AWCON 2022 comes at a time when there is a surge in interest around the world in women's sporting events, with viewing figures for football, basketball, boxing and rugby growing ever larger. This trend should be seen as a kind of global wake-up call and interest that transcends the playing field and addresses the social issues of gender inequality that permeate the entire world.
The finale of the event takes place just over a week before “African Women's Day” on July 31. Afrosport has partnered with AMAKA, a media company committed to empowering women in Africa and the diaspora, to highlight the AWCON 2022 games this July.
Adaora Oramah, CEO and Director, “To celebrate Pan African Women's Day this July, AMAKA and Afrosport TV are expanding the African Women's Cup of Nations (AWCON), highlighting and redefining the representation of African women in football. African athletes face notable infrastructural challenges: From poor sports coverage, to a growing gender pay gap, to underfunding, there are notable obstacles that stifle the growth and development of women athletes in Africa. We look forward to playing our part in changing the narrative, fostering inclusive media representation and extensive coverage of the tournament.”
Certainly these issues are poignant in Africa, and AWCON 2022 not only presents an opportunity for football-loving fans to be entertained by the fascinating talent on display, but also provides a platform to shine a light on broader issues facing African nations. women in Africa. sport and society.
Adeola Ogundele, Afrosport Business Development Manager, added: “AWCON 2022 gives us all the opportunity to showcase the talent of some of the best female footballers in the world and should be embraced by all true football fans. The greatest importance of AWCON 2022, however, will be a legacy that goes beyond sport, highlighting issues of gender inequality, empowerment, and a future of hope and inspiration for the next generation of girls.”
The Nigerian Super Falcons defeated the Ivory Coast Lady Elephants 2-0 on Friday, with debutant Ifeoma Onumonu scoring twice to give her team a good lead in the matchup.
The victory came in the first leg of their last round in the 2022 Africa Cup of Nations (AWCON) qualifiers.
In the match played at the Moshood Abiola National Stadium in Abuja, Nigeria's persistence allowed them to open the scoring in the 21st minute.
It was then that Esther Okoronkwo positioned Onumonu inside the penalty area to shoot the Super Falcons in front from close range.
Seven minutes later, Falcons goalkeeper Chiamaka Nnadozie was put to the test when Zote Nina sent a shot toward goal, but she quickly saved it.
The Ivorians began to exert great pressure from the start of the second half in an attempt to equalize, but the Falcons were determined to extend the lead.
The team's head coach Randy Waldrum sent forward Uchenna Kanu for midfielder Amanda Mbadinuji in the 55th minute to bolster their game.
A minute later, the American Onumonu, who was making her national team debut, latched on to a floating pass from another debutant.
Ashleigh Plumtree parried an Ivory Coast attack to float the ball from the left to the right, and Onumonu only had to go over Ivory Coast goalkeeper Cynthia Djohore.Super Falcon jubilant after defeating Lady Elephants of Cote D'Ivoire 2-0 in the 2022 Africa Cup of Nations (AWCON) qualifiers, on Friday in Abuja.
The Falcons tried to record a more convincing victory with striker Gift Monday coming on for Okoronkwo in the 84th minute, but the Ivory Coast put up a solid defence.
The visitors looked to score a consolation goal thereafter, but France-based Nnadozie made impressive saves just as defender Plumtree ensured the hosts kept a clean sheet.
After the game, Coach Waldrum said he was pleased with the team's performance.
“I think we had a good control of the game, so I'm very proud of the players.
“We have Nnadozie, making a great save at the end, keeping a clean sheet and we all know that is very important.
“We are also proud of this lady (Onumonu). This is his first opportunity to come to Nigeria and represent his country and he scored a brace.
“Ashleigh also gave a good account of herself and it was a really solid performance,” Waldrum said.
The coach also added that he was positive before the second leg in Abidjan on Wednesday.
For Onumonu, she was excited to make her debut, adding that she had always wanted to play for the country.
“It's an honor to play for this team, I've been watching them for years and dreamed of playing for the Super Falcons and I'm excited to have scored a double.
“I really just want to make an impact on this team,” Onumonu added.
The winners of the match will qualify for AWCON 2022 in Morocco in June.(www.newsng.com)
Nigerian scoring sensation for Super Falcons and Linköpings FC of Sweden, Uchenna Kanu, said the team would not be carried away by the 2-0 victory in the second leg in Ghana.
Kanu scored a brace against Black Queens of Ghana in the first leg of the Women's Africa Cup of Nations AWCON Morocco 2022 qualifiers on Wednesday in Lagos.
She told the Nigerian News Agency after the game at Mobolaji Johnson Stadium that Randy Waldrum's squad were focusing on Sunday's second leg in Ghana.
“We thank God for the victory, but we have a task ahead of us which is the second leg. We will stay focused on qualifying for AWCON, ”she said.
NAN reports that Kanu scored the goals for the nine-time African champions in the 21st and 27th minutes of the game in Lagos.
The Super Falcons, however, suffered a setback late in the first half of the game as reliable Falcon striker Ordega, who provided the assist for the opening goal, was injured.
The CSKA Moscow forward was then replaced by Vivian Ikechukwu at the start of the second half.