For large spells, the Nigerians played without coordination and clear identity
Before the commencement of the WAFCON, Banyana Banyana coach, Desiree Ellis said the Super Falcons are beatable.
It wasn’t a statement expressing bravado or disrespect. She wouldn’t have attempted that considering the gulf in the achievements of both teams, but she saw what both sides represented.
While the South Africans built their football on short, intricate passing, great spatial and positional awareness and patient build-up, the Super Falcons under American, Randy Waldrum is relying on the strength of individuals.
Player-for-player, Nigeria may be better than the South Africans, as they play in bigger clubs across Europe and the rest of the world but female football development in Africa also means more teams have learnt to play football.
At the Aisha Buhari Cup, there were excuses of player absences as the reason for the Super Falcons’ loss but excuses will not be tenable again.
The individual quality in the team necessitates the building of a clear approach to every game and playing like a team.
While Asisat Oshoala is massively talented and is undoubtedly the best player on the continent, she has underperformed with the Super Falcons in recent time.
Playing as a team takes the focus away from Oshoala as passing gets several players involved. She’d have more time to run and space to run into and passes can displace even the best of teams.
Skipper Onome Ebi played long balls the whole of the game on Monday and barely picked her target. Oshoala, whom the South African defense knew was the target of those balls was easily cut out on most occasions.
This approach means a ball-playing team like the Banyana Banyana hold the advantage going into every game.
As evident from their two goals, they patiently built play and used space to massive advantages, catching Super Falcons players off guard for both goals.
The Nigerians with the route-one approach met stumbling blocks in the Matlou-led defense and failed to create any decent scoring chance all game.
Times are different, Falcons
Like the South Africans showed at the Aisha Buhari Cup, they can play and are not afraid to impose their style on the opponent. The Super Falcons must learn and get off their high horses. Women’s football has developed in Africa. Only clear strategies can win games.
A team that’ll win games has to play decently, and in an organised manner. Debutants Botswana sent a message by crushing Burundi 4-2 but many expect the Super Falcons to humble the Southern Africans.
They must however improve if they want to go all the way, and play like a team with a strategy. Times are different and individuals are not enough again.
In the meantime, Banyana Banyana have shown what the Super Falcons should be doing and have beaten them in straight games, playing convincingly in both matches. It’s a sign of superiority. Cups can end any way, and anywhere, but the truth has re-established itself, yet again.