Some football enthusiasts on Tuesday expressed mixed feelings over the Super Falcons loss to England at the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup match in Australia and New Zealand.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Super Falcons bowed out of the tournament after losing 2-4 in a penalty shootout to England in the Round of 16 following a 0-0 draw at Brisbane Stadium.
Football enthusiasts told NAN that although the overall performance of the team was quite commendable, they missed a rare opportunity for the quarter-finals qualification.
Musa Amadu, former Secretary General, Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), said qualifying from a tough group was quite commendable, but losing to the Three Lionesses in the manner they did could have been easily avoided.
“The Super Falcons have been pleasantly surprising in this FIFA Women’s World Cup taking place in Australia and New Zealand.
“I must say that when they were paired in that ‘group of death’ nobody gave them a chance and everybody felt they would exit the first round.
“It is quite commendable that they were able to beat the host country, Australia and the reigning Olympic champions, Canada and held Republic of Ireland to a draw,” he said.
He, however, expressed regrets over the team’s missed chances against England, adding that they could have actually won the match and easily qualify for the quarter-finals.
“We should have won the game in extra time and the reason why I say so is, because from the penalty shootout, it was quite obvious that they did not practice penalties.
“They did not envisage the fact that the game could go all the way to penalties and we unfortunately exited the Round of 16 when we could have made the quarter-finals,” he said.
He also commended Coach Randy Waldrum for his achievements with the team, saying that he indeed proved all his critics wrong.
“I want to say that the NFF and Nigerians must be proud of the performance of the Super Falcons and Coach Waldrum has been able to do.
“The Texan has proved all critics wrong by getting to the Round of 16. I must say that the team is looking good and we should build us this to qualify for the Paris Olympics next year,” he said.
The former NFF Scribe also commended FIFA for the mouth-watering prize money that was showered on the players, adding that it will go along a way in helping the girls and their families.
“The girls have done themselves very good also by amassing 60,000 dollars each for their hard work. That amounts to about N 46 million for each of the players.
“Coming from their background they should be able to do something very well for themselves, their families and relations.
“I must also commend FIFA for what they have done with regards to the prize money for the girls. It is quite commendable.
“So, overall when the Super Falcons come back to Nigeria by Wednesday or Thursday, they must be given a very warm and cheerful reception,” he said.
Mansur Abdullahi, Assistant General Secretary, Nigeria Football Coaches Association, on his part expressed mixed feelings about the outcome of the match between the Super Falcons and their English counterparts.
He said that even though the team gave a good account of themselves, it was quite unfortunate that they couldn’t take advantage of a depleted England squad.
“The truth of the matter is that the Super Falcons have played to their own level.
“But it is quite sad that we couldn’t take advantage of the game when England were a player down due to the reckless red card shown to James who was one of their key players.
“Personally, I expected the Super Falcons technical crew to attack more because they had nothing to lose.
“Their opponents were a player down so it is only natural to take the fight to them and attack more instead of playing safe,” he said.
Abdullahi who was also a former assistant coach of the Super Falcons, said that it was also unfortunate that goalkeeper Nnadozie also failed to save any penalty following her antecedents in the tournament.
“When you get to the lottery penalty shootout, it is always a game of luck as anybody can take the day.
“However, it was unfortunate today that our goalkeeper Nnadozie who has indeed been wonderful in stopping penalties in the tournament couldn’t save any today.
“However we must not forget that England are the European champions and looking at the calibre of players in their squad we must give kudos to our girls for pushing them so far,” he said.
Harrison Jalla, the Chairman, Professional Footballers Association of Nigeria (PFAN) Task Force, said the performance of the Super Falcons was huge and showed the progress of female football in Nigeria.
“For me, it was indeed a fantastic performance by the Super Falcons. They have shown that we can even do more in Women’s football.
“Their overperformance in the tournament is indeed a shock to the world. They deserve all the commendations having played so well that even the loss to England was a very gallant one.
“The English team as well will go home to thank their God that they narrowly escaped defeat from the hands of Nigeria.
“It was a good game overall and a fantastic outing for the girls right from the group stage to the knock out stage,” he said.
Source: News Agency of Nigeria