Super Falcons Head Coach Randy Waldrum expressed my sentiment and that of many West African football observers by bemoaning the absence of heavyweights Ivory Coast and Ghana From yesterday’s draws for the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations fiesta set for Morocco in the summer.
In what was a banana skin and litmus test for the American gaffer, he had to navigate a herculean qualifying campaign that pitted the Super Falcons against behemoths Ghana and Ivory Coast.
Waldrum, against incredible odds, masterminded aggregate wins against both teams to be in the Wafcon with a realistic chance of qualifying for the Women’s World Cup next year in Australia and New Zealand.
In the draws for the Wafcon yesterday, Waldrum expressed exasperation at CAF’s dubious qualifying formula.
“It was unfortunate the way teams were matched up prior to Wafcon,” said the American.
“Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire both are worthy of being in the World Cup. Seems to me,CAF would want it’s best teams representing Africa,” the 64-year-old tactician sympathised on Cafonline.
However, taking positive from it from Nigeria’s perspective, Waldrum added: ”Having said that, those games certainly helped our players in knowing what we are capable of, and re-emphasizing the strength of our team and the possibilities ahead.”
Around 2020, CAF introduced this controversial regional zoning formula that proves punitive to teams like Nigeria, Ghana, Ivory Coast.
In the WAFU Under-20 and Under-17 tournaments to take place in May and June respectively, illustrious and formidable West African countries will have to knock themselves out before even qualifying for their respective Afcons which will ultimately serve as world cup qualifiers.
Nigeria and Ghana are the most successful youth teams in Africa. Yet they are in the same regional zone (and the same groups) in Wafu qualifiers.
If Randy Waldrum can see the absurdity and unfairness in this approach, I wonder why powerful CAF officials aren’t considering putting an end to such a draconian qualification formula.
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