Super Falcons beleaguered American coach Randy Waldrum has now come out to apologise for calling Nigerian media 'negative' after the criticisms that followed Nigeria's insipid 2:1 loss to South Africa.
“The comments are regrettable and I withdraw them in entirety," said Waldrum. "Actually, I will say the statement did not come out the way I intended. I hold the media everywhere, including Nigeria, in high regard and I only wish they could be a little more empathetic to us when we lose or draw matches." Concluded Waldrum.
Tha apology notwithstanding, the fact was that Waldrum felt the heat after the team's unconvincing showing against South Africa and buckled under the weight of pressure.
The American was brought in, not just to win Nigeria the Wafcon, but to create, craft and calibrate a formidable Super Falcons outfit that will be a force to reckon with in world football.
But things appear not to be working to plan: Waldrum’s Falcons are yet to defeat ANY teams higher than Nigeria in the Fifa rankings in 5 matches; they are yet to settle on an identifiable brand of football; they have failed to arrest recent degringolade to South Africa – in fact Waldrum seems to have accelerated this loss-of-ground; and the outputs of Waldrum’s Super Falcons have emphatically failed to coalesce and unite disparate and a broad base of fans behind the team.
Waldrum has a mandate and he was given a manifesto by the NFF: to maintain Nigeria’s dominant monopoly in African women’s football and accelerate her rise in world football.
As of today, he hasn’t delivered the goods across several levels. If he is unable to live up to the aims, objectives and targets set out to him, he should do the honourable thing and simply throw in towel rather than resorting to diversionary tactics (like berating the media and critics).
“I know Nigerians love their football teams and want the teams to win all the time. They can still be supportive while criticizing us in a constructive way.” Said Waldrum.
Well, by even bothering to criticise the Super Falcons – despite the worsening security crisis in Nigeria – fans, media and critics like me alike are showing ‘support’ even in our criticisms.
We are no longer asking for entertaining football with pomp and pageantry. No, all we are saying is to have an identifiable pattern that utilises players in their uptimum positions in a manner that produces a compelling, smooth, free flowing brand of football.
This man should grow some cojones and jettison players who are long-in-the-tooth to the bench. We all see what happens when substitutions are made.
Before substitutions, it was always difficult to feel invested in what the team was doing against South Africa and Botswana. Their performances didn’t rise high enough to weave an umbilical cord that would have emotionally connected fans with their performances. But the embryo begins to take shape with the introduction of each fresh leg.
I still like Waldrum and, as much as I start to question his abilities to mould a credible team for the world stage, something in me believes that he can at least crowbar his way into winning this tournament.
Losing 2:1 to a South African team in decline was very disappointing to many fans which is understandable. It is an urban myth that South Africa is better than Nigeria. Yes, they have a fully baked brand of football that is polished and (I must confess) aesthetically appealing. The truth is that they are beatable.
Since losing to Nigeria at the 2018 Women’s Afcon, South Africa has dropped from 48 to 58 (a whole 10 places) in Fifa rankings whereas Nigeria has stayed at 39 in that 4 year period.
We all know that Fifa rankings are derived from performances which are a result of a team’s abilities.
Nigeria’s abilities produced performances that maintained our 39 position in Fifa rankings while South Africa’s decline from 48 to 58 is also as a result of their dwindling abilities – meaning Nigeria still has the players to put South Africa in their place under a competent coach. (despite South Africa’s flair).
South Africa, having won 7 previous COSAFA Women’s Cup, came a humiliating 4th in last year’s edition that they hosted, losing to Zambia and Malawi while failing to win Angola.
So, Nigeria will lose to this declining South African side and Waldrum wants “compassion in criticisms”, joker!
Waldrum should go back to the drawing board. He has it in him to achieve his objectives and meet his targets. But he won’t do this if he allows himself get distracted by Justified criticisms.
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