Coach Randy Waldrum, whose pragmatic approach has seen the Super Falcons win 6 out of 11 games, is quite upbeat about his ladies’ chances of marching straight to the Wafcon in the summer with a favourable result against the Lady Elephants of Ivory this week. Nigeria won the first leg at home 2:0 after a focused and business-like approach saw them devour a determined Ivory Coast who themselves were the more entertaining side. And entertainment is not something that has been associated with Waldrum’s tenure as Super Falcons head coach. “Even though we did not entertain (in the first leg against Ivory Coast),” said Coach Randy, “but we were able to shut them out [and] we scored two goals and kept a clean sheet.” He added. Nigeria fans are split in opinion when it come to this issue of ‘entertainment’.
Perhaps it is becoming a major distraction in national team football discourse and some fans (like myself) are only hanging on to bygone era in a manner that is detrimental to the success of the Super Eagles and Falcons. Coach Gernot Rohr was sacked, despite meeting his targets, for not playing a sexy brand of football. These same motifs are now manifesting in the game of Randy Waldrum. The American said quite rightly that: “My team played according to instructions (against Ivory Coast in Abuja).” And to me that much was obvious. The Falcons were focused in disrupting Ivory Coast’s rhythm; they were fastidious enough to absorb relentless pressure; they withstood everything the visitors threw at them; and most importantly, they got the goals to turbo charge their campaign with effectively one foot at the Wafcon door. But, what was missing was elegance, poise, finesse and artistry that would have elevated the enjoyment value and experience and also make the highlights delightfully rewatchable. Even at that, a growing body of Nigeria fans are starting to peel off this entertainment line of thinking. Football is a results business – they would argue – and any coach winning matches is worth his onions. To these fans, the end justifies the means. However, that is not altogether not acceptable to all. For me, it will still be helpful for the output of the Super Falcons to exhibit a mixture of pragmatism and meaningful entertainment or flair.
If a match leans too much towards entertainment and has failure as end product, then it is pointless at best and meaningless at worst.
Conversely, if a match is all about results with a dour, depressing, grotesque and abominable brand of football, then the success will be tainted and will not be memorable.
A middle ground is needed here.
Balancing results and beautiful football is a fine line in which a reputable coach must navigate with skill, care, vision and application.
With the right players, right mentality and thorough preparations, this can be achieved.
The fact that coach Randy accepted that his team ‘didn’t entertain’ and will now play ‘on the front foot’ would suggest to me that he knows he has to somehow inject flair, energy and vibrancy to his results oriented approach for Nigeria.
“This team is in much better place and with much better players. We will be fine at end of the day. We shall get the job done in Ivory Coast.” Said Randy.
And getting the job done is something this coach is proving to be good at; some of us are just waiting for his Super Falcons to start getting the job done in some style.
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