By Paul Bassey
Week end, I read some funny stories credited to Coach Jossy Lad “blaming the NFF for Falcons poor showing in Equatorial Guinea” Going through the story I did not see any substance relating to what the NFF could have done that it did not do.
If any one is to be blamed for Falcons ouster that person is Coach Kadiri Ikhana. There is nothing the NFF did not do to guarantee the success of the Falcons at the African Women Championships, including the appointment of a top coach, Training tour of South Africa, enough time for the scouting and camping of the players and the increased bonuses.
When they got to Bata and the accommodation reserved for them was not considered good enough NFF acted promptly, not sparing a dime to relocate them.
However, if any blame should go to the NFF it should be for not relieving Coach Ikhana of the appointment when it was discovered before the Championship that a mistake had been made employing him.
There is no doubt that coaching the women is miles apart from coaching men and the credible credentials of coach Ikhana were not enough to see him through this assignment.
I was not in a position to rate the Falcons in their first match against Cameroun because rain and a soaked pitch hid whatever attributes the Falcons must have taken into the match.
By the time we played our second match, I called Chairman Green to tell him that I was not impressed with what I saw.
I also spoke to the Coordinator of the Female National teams Aisha Falode and predicted that there was no way we were going to get to the final not to talk of wining the cup with what I had seen that day. This is also a view I voiced on Godwin Enakhena’s programme, Sports Splash on Lagos Television.
For coach Ladipo to say “ The team played well …..” in this competition makes me wonder. This, was certainly not a Falcons team that I had known since I first covered the Women World Cup in China several years ago.
They lacked everything, not even the basic urgency of rushing to take free kicks and throw ins when time was running out on them.
A technical crew that decamps the captain of the U-20 female team, Gloria Ofoegbu among others is suspect. Not only is that girl a natural footballer, she is a bundle of energy and a born leader who leads by example.
The moment South Africa ousted us and Coach Ikhana got the enviable tag of being the coach when South Africa beat us for the first time ever, I had expected him to resign and hop into the next available plane back to Nigeria.
As I am writing this I have not heard that Coach Ikhana has taken responsibility for the failure. Or is he also blaming the NFF?
I repeat, when we found out at the Technical Committee level that we had made a mistake appointing Coach Ikhana we should not have allowed him to proceed to the Championship and for this we owe the country an apology.
Coach Ikhana’s case cannot be treated in isolation. The Technical Committee of the NFF believes that the Flamingoes and the Falconets would have done better than they did at world stage if not for some indiscipline, tactical and technical faux pas, internal wranglings and unnecessary distractions…, that is why we have requested that all those who had one function or the other as team secretaries, coaches, leaders of delegations and so on should submit their independent reports that will enable us redress the anomalies and prepare for a sound future.
It is unfortunate that the Falcons have come to nearly rubbish as it were, the sterling and commendable progress made by the NFF currently.