Some football stakeholders have hailed the Super Falcons for their heroic feats at the ongoing 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup co-hosted by Australia and New Zealand.
The nine-time African champions bowed out of the Women’s flagship tournament on Monday, after losing 2-4 in a penalty shootout to England in the Round of 16, following a 0-0 draw at Brisbane Stadium.
A cross section of football stakeholders, who spoke to NAN believed the team gave a good account of themselves and surpassed expectations of Nigerians, the continent and the whole football world.
The FCT Football Association (FA) chairman, Mouktar Mohammed, said even though the national team lost the game, they had a better game plan, put England under pressure, and created more chances.
“The Super Falcons and the technical crew did very well and exhibited an excellent showcase of the Nigerian spirit and quality. This shows our female football has grown by leaps and bounds.
“They landed in Australia and showed the world they were ready to face any team at the World Cup and go away with something.
“They gave England a very good match….penalty is always a gamble, so they must keep their heads up,” he said.
Mohammed, who was recently re-elected FCT FA Chairman for a second term, said the team must take lessons away from the tournament and improve on all mistakes observed.
If we had won this match, we would have rewritten history, but nevertheless we are full of praise and very proud of the girls,” he added.
A former chairman of Sunshine Stars FC of Akure, Akin Akinbobola, said the Super Falcons had made Africa proud and also brought Nigeria to the fore in female football across the globe.
“They have done extraordinarily well, and if you had the privilege of watching all their matches in this ongoing World Cup, you will realise that there is no match that they got humiliated.
“For each of the matches, both the one they won and the ones they drew, they really signed their presence on the pitch.
“The show of character, talent display and of course, the determination to excel was quite obvious in their games,” he said.
Akinbobola also singled out the coaching crew for commendation, saying that the technical and tactical decisions were spot on.
“I am also delighted about the technical performance of the coaching crew.
“All their substitutions and tactical approach to the game were, to me, a delight, maybe because of my background as a football coach myself.
“I was able to not just watch the matches but also analyse and decipher their technical approach to each match.
“I realised that the coaching crew did excellently well, and this is the first time that the Super Falcons will go to the World Cup and not humiliated,” he said.
He said the girls must be celebrated, having made the country and continent proud, especially after playing against very formidable teams in the world and coming out tops.
He advised the NFF to preserve the bulk of the players in the squad, while gradually phasing out the older ones and replacing them with fresh legs ahead of the next World Cup.
“They must be celebrated, appreciated and encouraged to stay together as a team.
“At least 70 per cent of the girls must be kept together, while fresh players can be added to the squad to replace the ageing ones.
“The experienced players must not be completely done away with but should gradually be phased out, while injecting fresh legs into the team that will learn and gather experience over one or two years.
“By this strategy, we will be able to maintain our standard and pace as far as African female football is concerned.
“Afterwards, we will get back to the World Cup again and aim for the quarter-finals by the grace of God,” he said.
Patrick Ngwaogu, a veteran journalist and former sporting director of Abia Warriors FC, said many Nigerians, including himself never expected much from the team, especially because of the distractions that came towards the commencement of the tournament.
“The girls, in a typical Nigerian way, rose to the occasion and gave a good account of themselves.
“They performed, especially in the match against England. The English team were only lucky to have survived.
“Well, that is the game of football, we would come back home and restrategise for the next edition.
“Good enough, we have a very young team that would be matured enough during the next World Cup,” Ngwaogu stated.