Super Falcons on the march again by Patrick Omorodion

Human wants are truly insatiable. When it is hot, they  want it cold and when it is cold they want it hot. They are always looking for what is not.

When the senior men’s national team, the Super Eagles were getting ready to storm Russia for the FIFA World Cup, the Nigeria Football Federation, NFF and its sports wear partners came out with new jersey designs which they launched in London.

Super Falcons

Most Nigerian fans rather than express joy that the Eagles were going to the World Cup with new jerseys, lambasted the football house for launching the jerseys in London instead of Abuja or Lagos.

When the jersey was finally launched and non Nigerians liked it and made advanced bookings for it, the same Nigerians who criticised the NFF joined in the rush for it. As usual, those who could not afford the original had to make do with the replicas mass produced illegally by Nigerians who were out to profit from it.

The Super Eagles were voted among the best kitted teams at the World Cup but most Nigerians were not impressed as they argued that they would have preferred the Eagles progressed beyond the first round as they were not in Russian for fashion parade.

With this feeling in mind, one would have thought that when the Super Falcons left for Abidjan in Cote dIvoire to begin preparation for the Africa Women Cup of Nations, AWCON, the same Nigerians would be less perturbed by the jersey they will don at the competition which began yesterday in Ghana.

They were again vehement in condemning the lack of proper kits for the team as players wore different colours of attires. The situation was however, remedied when the kits which was allegedly seized at the port for lack of funds were delivered.

The Super Eagles that had the luxury of having one of the best designed jersey at the World Cup couldn’t go beyond the first round and Nigerians were not happy. For the Super Falcons, the issue will not be jersey but performance as the Nigerians I know will demand nothing short of victory from them.

Why? Because they see the Super Falcons as the perennial queens of women’s football in Africa irrespective of the rise of the Equatorial Guinean team who stopped them twice, in 2008 and 2012. Incidentally too, the Guineans were host of the competition on both occasions.

Because of the prowess of the Nigerian ladies, most Nigerians, ironically including officials of the NFF jokingly say that even if the Super Falcons don’t train, they will still rule Africa.

The players are really not deceived by that thinking anymore and have always yearned for equal treatment with their male counterparts from the NFF.

The football authorities have also assured they will extend as much care the Super Eagles are given to the women’s team. Despite the lapse witnessed in the kit arrangement, they made up by ensuring that the team finally got it before they departed for the competition venue in Ghana on Wednesday.

For the first time since CAF introduced Women football on its calendar, this is the first time the team is being handled by a foreign coach. That means the Super Falcons have won all past 10 titles with indigenous coaches and so Thomas Dennerby cannot but with the African title.

Most people say the Super Falcons have won 8 African titles but the truth is that they have won 10. The first two titles were in 1991 and 1995 when it was still a championship. The Nations Cup format started in 1998 which Nigeria won by beating Ghana’s Black Queens 2-0 in Abeokuta.

The second edition of the African Woman Nations Cup was hosted in South Africa and ended in controversial circumstances. Super Falcons were leading the hosts 2-0 with 20 minutes left of play and angry South African fans started throwing stones into the pitch.

After about 30 minutes the referee had to call off the match and the trophy was awarded to Nigeria. I still remember how the players and the entire Nigerian delegation, including my humble self who were at the stadium that day were escorted out of the stadium by heavily armed police men.

After the 2012 edition hosted by Equatorial Guinea where the Falcons lost 0-1 to South Africa in the semi final, they returned to their winning ways and won the last two editions hosted by Namibia and Cameroon in 2014 and 2016. They beat the Indomitable Lionesses on both occasions.

Ghana, who have been to the final on three occasions, 1998, 2000 and 2006 all hosted by Nigeria, lost all three incidentally to the Super Falcons, are hosting the tournament for the first time. They are likely to be the main obstacle to a Nigerian victory outside Equatorial Guniea, South Africa and Cameroon who have inflicted painful defeats to the Super Falcons in the past.

Statistically, Nigeria stands shoulder above all the African countries in this competition. Only Cameroon have attended all past 12 competitions like Nigeria. The Nigeria ladies have scored a total of 204 goals and conceded just 27 in the previous 12 competitions attended.

As the Super Falcons open their Nations Cup account today against South Africa, all eyes will be on top scorer, Asisat Oshoala who topped the chart during the 2016 edition with 6 goals to once again lead Nigeria to victory, not only against South Africa today but as the continental champions once again to make it an unassailable 11 times out of 13.