The coach of the Nigeria Women National team, Florence Omagbemi recently ignited a debate, when she excluded four members of the team that won the 2014 Africa Women Championship from her team heading for the 2016 edition. But Omagbemi’s team should not be the focus: the whole of Nigeria Women Football is in danger of going extinct…
In Case You Missed it: the Nigeria U17 Women team just returned literally empty-handed from the 2016 FIFA U17 Women’s World Cup. They didn’t win a single game. They failed to score a single goal. If these are ‘the best’ Nigeria can boast of now, it means in four or five years, the current crop of Falcons will still be forced to be playing. There will be no replacements, unless something changes.
The performance of the U17 Women team has been on a downward spiral since Nigeria sent representatives to the first edition in 2008. That pioneer team finished third at the Group stage despite earning 4pts, scoring four foals and conceding four.
The 2010 team scored 10 goals, conceded three and finished top of their group with 9pts, before coming apart in the Quarter Finals.
The 2012 team also crashed out in the Quarter Finals despite scoring 15 goals and conceding only one in a Group they topped with 7pts.
The Quarter Final ceiling was firmly in place in 2014 despite another 9pt haul at the Group stage. Then the ceiling crashed in 2016. What can be done?
- The NFF must as a matter of urgency restructure Women Football by paying deliberate attention to developing talent through schools and academies. That’s the only way to ensure a continuity in the supply chain.
- Get coaches on board, who can them teach basics from an early age. The ratio of shots-to-goal posted by Flamingoes over the last eight years is horrifying: They took 365 shots but scored only 41 goals. That’s 11.23% conversion rate from total shots taken. Simply put, our teams have no goal-sense.
- Pay attention to scoring from dead balls. Because in the same period, Nigeria had 129 corner kicks, but did not significantly add to the goals total. Successful nations plunder goals from dead ball situations.
- Finally, regularly assess coaches, especially at national team level. The display of some of our women teams show that the coaches have contributed nothing tactically, to prepare the players.
If these steps (and more) are not taken, The Falcons, The Pride of Nigerian Football, will soon follow the path of the Flamingoes, and become the laughing stock of Africa, because the senior national team will suffer, as the talent dries out.