The Super Falcons of Nigeria put up a spirited display yesterday to send out a statement of intent after coming from a 2 goal deficit to share the spoils 3:3 against a powerful Portugal in a pulsating encounter.
And what is the statement? That they are preparing to take the world of female football by storm in the coming years.
“The target is to move outside of Africa, we have to make Nigeria a world power.” Said coach Randy Waldrum after the encounter.
“It’s not just to qualify, but go far into World Cups and consistently being there.” He concluded.
These sort of bold statements have the potential to rouse and galvanise Super Falcons fans but can he back it up with actions and results?
So far, though we are in early days, the signs are looking very good indeed.
Green Shoots of Greatness?
Three wins and one draw from five games for the Super Falcons can qualify for a blistering start to Waldrum’s career as Super Falcons coach. The outcome of yesterday’s encounter was even more impressive when you consider that Portugal are 9 places ahead of Nigeria in the current Fifa rankings.
And the Europeans translated the gap in ranking to gulf in class when they raced to a 2 goal lead in just 32 minutes to stun Nigeria. Okeke’s own goal in 22 minutes and Costa’s smart finish sent ominous signs of what Nigeria should expect.
After Alozie’s deft drive pulled 1 back for Nigeria in 44 minutes, the match still seemed likely to tip in Portugal’s favour due to Nigeria’s porous defence and Portugal’s tactical superiority and pristine play.
So, it came to no surprise when Telma made it 3:1 for Portugal in 49 minutes. What many didn’t envisage was the never-say-die attitude that would embody Nigeria’s response.
The Super Falcons pressed, probed and powered themselves to the most unlikely 3:3 final outcome. This, following an own goal from Gomez in 52 minutes and a sting to the Portugueses’ tail with Rasheedat’s last gasp 95th minute spick and span strike.
Although a friendly tournament, the Super Falcons applied themselves with great intensity and a determination not to leave this match empty handed.
I think this sort of spirit augurs well for what we should expect from the effervescent coach Waldrum’s Super Falcons in games to come.
What is also refreshing is seeing fresh faces in the Falcons being introduced with visible positive impacts.
Having now lost 1 and drawn 1, Nigeria will target a most unlikely victory against hosts USA in their last match of the Invitational tournament on Thursday.
Coach Waldrum has already identified defensive and other shortcomings of the Super Falcons that he aims to address.
It is almost a foregone conclusion that the USA will win this match. But with the sort of attitude shown by Nigeria and coach Waldrum’s tactical injections, it promises to be a riveting encounter.