It has now been officially established to be foolhardy in being invested in any Nigerian national team that starts a tournament in blistering form.
Despite wading through the group stages undefeated, Danjuma's now defeated damsels fell like a pack of cards against the Netherlands yesterday to exit the U-20 women’s world cup tournament with their tails between their legs.
So much for tournament favourites! Two neat and cunningly conceived goals by the ladies in Orange put paid to any pipe dream the Falconets had harboured of lifting the trophy.
“I think we had these few mistakes starting and we were punished for it and we had our chances and we could not take it,” said a humbled Coach Danjuma after crushing loss to Holland.
In truth, Danjuma’s mistakes were his inability to identify his own team’s Achilles heel before the game. Both of Holland’s goals came from the same routine and the same areas on the pitch: crosses from Nigeria’s left wing, botched clearance by our center back and certainty of shooting past a goalkeeper who had been suspect throughout the tournament.
The Dutch had done their homework and the results were there for the world to see, they capitalised on mistakes they pre-knew Nigeria would make.
Match all those factors with Nigeria’s predictability under Danjuma and lack of imagination up front, embarrassingly wayward long range shots, inadequate composure and a coach that barked allocution from the touch line constantly, then you have a recipe for imminent defeat.
And that is what exactly happened!
Nigerian coaches are too one dimensional and predictable. They seem to have a potent and deadly Plan A and a weak and feeble Plan B, that is if they have any plan B at all.
All of Holland’s “mistake goals” as Danjuma put it, were carefully contrived and came very early in the game. There were still a whole 60 minutes for Danjuma to manufacture a route back in the game for his girls.
Instead, all his touchline yellings yielded were meaningless shots and drainage of morale for his girls.
Another tournament has ended in failure for Nigeria after starting so promising, with many minutes left to rectify the initial damage and navigate the campaign back to safety.
Local coaches have a long way to go. Their Plan “As” usually initially blindside and bewilder oppositions while raising false hope for fans by sending us off the beaten track. But, immediately their strategies are swiftly decoded, there is nothing left: the team will collapse in spectacular fashion with fans left to pick up the pieces.
With this outing, I will now forever be wary of any Nigerian coach that is quick off the blocks – my fingers have been burnt far too many times!