BY KATE OBODO
The senior national female team, the Super Falcons are a dominant force in Africa, winning all the African titles except one which they lost to Equatorial Guinea in 2008 but that feat is yet to be established at the world level.
They also have the credit of being the only African team to have appeared in all FIFA Women’s World Cup since its inception in China in 1991 but their performance have always been appalling except their quarter-final placing in 1999 in the United States.
Today in far away Germany, as they begin another World Cup journey in an attempt to claim some elusive silverware at the highest level, more questions have once again been asked about this Super Falcons team.
However, this time they seem more determined, more focused and more wise about appreciating their considerable experience. Most of the players of a famed “golden generation” are on their last lap and probably playing at their last world championship, and they should certainly be driven to go out with one last hurrah for these stars of African football.
After wrapping up yet another continental triumph at the Africa Women’s Championship in South Africa in November, the Super Falcons shifted their attention to Germany 2011 where they will be expected to elevate their game against some of the world’s most decorated teams.
For a side that has always been blessed with talent and natural goalscorers, their problems at previous tournaments might be said to run deeper than strictly the level of ability in the team.
Whether they can put aside their anxieties and play to the standard they are capable of will be the big question for the African champions.
Questions were asked about the ability of the first woman to handle the team, Eucharia Uche, with rumours at a time that the Nigeria Football Federation, NFF were in search of a foreign technical adviser.
The foreigner they got but the NFF were quick to say he was going to assist Uche after some stakeholders in female football in the country queried the essence of bringing in a whiteman to reap where he did not sow. In this quest to better their 1999 record, coach Uche will rely mostly on the duo of Stella Mbachu and Perpetua Nkwocha who remain the most potent weapons of the Super Falcons.
Although they are both probably on their way off of the international stage, both Mbachu and Nkwocha have been enjoying a rich vein of form lately. They will want to make a mark at this World Cup which hopefully will mark the end of their international career.
Iloh urges NFF to boost Falcons
Former Nigeria Cycling Federation, NFF president, Rev. Moses Iloh has called on the Nigeria Football Federation, NFF to ensure that the Super Falcons are psychologically boosted for effective result at the World Cup.
“What the Falcons need now is some psychological boost. I was listening to some one on the radio recently talking about the neglect of female footballers, so whatever can be done to give them some psychological boost now should be done because they do not lack talent nor skill, unity or ability but certainly they feel unappreciated because they are girls. They should be treated specially. So my suggestion is that, the NFF should please do what they can for them to ensure that the girls are happy and appreciated, and they will be surprised what those girls will do at the World Cup.
On Nigeria’s grouping with Germany, France and Canada, the firebrand preacher, said: “Whether we are grouped with stronger teams or not, all I’m saying is that the NFF should ensure that the girls are well appreciated just the way their male counterparts in our national team are being appreciated before and after a match.
Let them have some kind of boosts not promises. And then let them know that if they win there is a better tomorrow. These are Nigerian daughters for goodness sake, they need to be appreciated and not neglected.”