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W/Cup: Nigerians demand more from Super Falcons after draw with Canada

As reactions continue to trail the Super Falcons’  barren draw with reigning Olympic Champions Canada in their opening Group B match played yesterday in Melbourne,…

As reactions continue to trail the Super Falcons’  barren draw with reigning Olympic Champions Canada in their opening Group B match played yesterday in Melbourne, Australia at the ongoing FIFA Women’s World Cup, Nigerian football fans have commended the players and asked them to do more in their remaining group matches.

The nine-time African champions who have attended every edition of the tournament beginning from 1991 are grouped with co-host Australia, Canada, and the Republic of Ireland.

It is interesting to note that despite a chaotic preparation occasioned by the no love lost relationship between the NFF and the Technical Adviser, Randy Waldrum, the Super Falcons stayed focused to pull off a vital draw with their more illustrious opponents despite having one of their players sent off in the second half added time.

Undoubtedly, the heroine for the Super Falcons was their captain and goalkeeper, Chiamaka Nnadozie, who saved a penalty off the boots of the experienced Canadian captain Christine Sinclair in the second half of the match.

With the draw, the Super Falcons are very much alive in the tricky group as they need at least a win to progress to the knock-out stage of the biggest edition of the FIFA Women’s World Cup.

Speaking to Trust Sports on the performance of the team, Chairman of the FCT Football Association, Alhaji Adam Mouktar Mohammed said “we played a very good side in Canada and we fought well and held out.

“Unfortunately we got a red card. And we must improve defensively, if we are to go far in the competition. We were lucky that our goalkeeper saved the penalty and ended with the Woman of the match Award. She literally saved us.

“The Super Falcons must step up their game because our next opponents Australia are the co-host so it will be very tough to beat them.”

Also speaking a broadcaster and a former Golden Eaglets assistant coach, Bunmi Haruna, said the Super Falcons lacked creativity in the midfield.

He, therefore, urged Waldrum to try and get his team selection right for enhanced performances in the remaining group matches.

“I am satisfied with the result. I believe that with the draw, we stand a better chance to make it out of the group.

“But the coach missed a big ingredient of his game. I think he doesn’t know his best 11 yet. I think Jennifer Echegini should start our games because she is the most creative player we have and she is more experienced than Abiodun.

“The next game against Australia is very crucial. Although I think we can beat them, winning at least a point will also brighten our chances of qualification.

“The return of suspended Rasheedat Ajibade and Halimat Ayinde will be huge for Nigeria too,” said the Chairman of SWAN FCT Chapter.

On his part, a retired FIFA referee, Peter Edibi, said the girls deserve commendation because a defeat would have been disastrous.

He also said the Super Falcons should ensure they get at least another draw in their next match to keep hopes of their qualification alive.

“At the World Cup level, there is no easy match. The girls showed the right fighting spirit. Even as they were reduced to 10 players, they held on for a draw.

“I believe if they are able to maintain the same fighting spirit, they will not crash out at the group stage. I think what they need now is concentration and the much needed support from all Nigerians.”

Another veteran sports journalist, Wale Alabi, singled out Nnadozie for special mention as he said the young keeper made his day with the spectacular penalty save.

“Chiamaka Nnadozie has made my day again, with her performance against Canada. As usual of her, she was stoic, inspirational and brilliant.

“She was really outstanding. That young midfielder Abiodun also deserves accolades. She earned the future of the Game award,” said the former Secretary General of SWAN.

In a related development, some members of the board of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) who spoke to online publication TotoriNews in Melbourne shortly after the match, also commended the Super Falcons and expressed optimism for better performances in future matches.

The first vice-president of the NFF and former Chairman of Enyimba FC, Felix Anyasi-Agwu said “it is a very interesting game of football. Football has changed a lot. I believe the result we got today is the best given the circumstances.

“Both teams gave a good account of themselves but what is even more inspiring is the support the Super Falcons got from the Australians and Nigerian fans. It was as if we played at home,” he said.

On his part, the General Secretary of the NFF, Dr. Mohammed Sanusi, said the Super Falcons were unlucky not to win the match.

“The girls played well and we had good chances, but in football even when you play your best, you still have to rely on luck. We were unlucky not to have scored.

“They girls gave their best. The match was technically balanced. The Super Falcons entertained everyone so we are looking forward to the next match with great expectations.”

A female member of the NFF board and former Speaker of the Benue State House of Assembly, Hon. Margret Mwuese Icheen also said the draw against Canada was a good result that will motivate the best women’s team in Africa.

“The girls should be motivated by the result. This is a World Cup match that we are talking about. The draw should motivate the players in their future matches.

“The goalkeeper also did very well. Look at the way she saved the penalty. She deserves her award as the player of the match,” said the former Chairman of the Benue State Football Association.

Another member of the NFF board and Chairman of the Borno State Football Association, Alhaji Banagana Kalli said “I am excited with the result and the overwhelming performance of the girls.

“But we have to go back to the drawing board to restrategise so that we can win our next match against Australia.”

Meanwhile, the Super Falcons whose best performance in the tournament remains the quarter-final finish at the 1999 edition in the USA will take on co-host Australia in the second group match on Thursday, July 27 at the Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane.

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