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Why The Super Falcons Should Be Apprehensive of The Threat of Ethiopia in Olympic Qualifiers

The grave concerns about the risk of Nigeria not qualifying for the 2024 Olympics from a bevy of fans are, for me, not at all misplaced.

Yes, Nigeria has not qualified for the Olympics Women’s Soccer event in recent times but it is actually a little bit more serious than that.

Worryingly as a Nigerian, but paradoxically at the same time comforting as an African, I think we are witnessing an iron curtain of giant killings in African women's football of late.

The first casualty were the great Cameroon who were killed off by Kenya in last month's Wafcon qualifiers. As the continent was still reeling from this seismic shock, it was the turn of Ivory Coast to be trampled upon before being torn apart by Tanzania in the same round of qualifiers.

With teams like Guinea and Togo returning 11 and 13 unrequited goals respectively in the same round of qualifiers, the frontiers of traditional super powers in women's football in the tournament is definitely being rolled back.

The question now is, who will be next?

I rejoiced with much happiness when Bankole Olowookere Nigeria U-17 Women's team won bronze in last year's Fifa World Cup - they were agonisingly close to clinching silver or gold. But we were so close to never making it to the world cup in the first place.

Ethiopia pushed Bankole’s babes to the brink of qualification failure save for a contentious solo goal on home soil from the irrepressible Opeyemi Ajakaye across 2 legs. Before that last match, Bankole’s babes had scored 14 goals in 4 games against Congo and Egypt; they were to find their Ethiopian counterparts a tougher bowl of Akara and Eko to swallow.

This same Ethiopia senior women’s national team are undefeated in open play in their last 4 games, scoring 12 goals in the process and conceding only 2.

Shouldn't the NFF have used the last women's international window to prepare Nigeria for this tough challenge by speedily arranging a last minute friendly following the withdrawal of São Tomé and Príncipe in Afcon qualifiers?

Will that decision not potentially capable of coming back to bite the Super Falcons in the backside?

Cameroon and Ivory Coast have used kids gloves to battle erstwhile underdogs in African women's football and it had not gone well for them.

I only hope the Super Falcons are not treading on the same perilous path!

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