The Nigerian female U-20 fought valiantly against the Netherlands but their efforts would not be crowned.
Not to worry, the players showed flashes of what can be if they’re nurtured and developed even further from here and despite their loss, they were one of the brightest teams at the tournament.
Soccernet has taken five major points away from the game and they are;
1. Believe Chris Danjuma, the future of the Super Falcons is secure
The Falconets defeated France, South Korea and Canada in the group stage and played a brand of football that was one of the best at the tournament.
While it was evident they still had a lot to do in the area of composure with the constant instruction from the bench being a hand gesture for calm down, or the coach barking “cool down” the team showed immense promise.
As a team, they fought for each other and there were individual stars like Esther Onyenezide, Deborah Abiodun, Rofiat Imuran m, Flourish Sabastine, Chiamaka Okuchukwu and a host of others who showed flashes of their brilliance.
These are all players that can be drafted to the Super Falcons in the future and will stand their own. The expected exposure to European football that may follow this tournament will help those players’ growth and competition in the Super Falcons.
Like Chris Danjuma said, the future of the Super Falcons is secure.
2. Lack of exposure affected the Falconets
The Falconets are probably the only team at the tournament without any high-grade test match against teams in the competition.
Their coach felt this wasn’t a disadvantage as the girls have been together for sometime and could stand their own. They did, but it could only get them so far as a more exposed team in the Netherlands did the numbers.
Majority of the Dutch players were established in good European clubs as against the Nigerian players, many of whom ply their trades on the local scene and some of whom are unattached.
3. Abiodun, Imuran and Onyenezide are Super Falcons materials
At the 2022 WAFCON in Morocco, Randy Waldrum deployed Ashleigh Plumptre, Toni Payne and Nicole Payne in the left back position at different points and they all had good shifts.
The absence of a natural left-back failed to propel the team on occasions and with a flying full-back like Imuran just waiting to be refined and finished, it’s high time she got drafted into the senior team.
Onyenezide and Abiodun, in spite of their young ages show great promise. Their confidence on the ball is excellent and they have natural energy, commensurate to their young years. These players will do an excellent job if they get gradually gelled into the team while they gain valuable experience for the future.
4. Nigerian goalkeepers have a lot to learn
Omini Oyono was excellent at the tournament with her reflexes. Her sharp acrobatic skills stood true for the team in some games in the group stage and her dying minute save against the Netherlands also promised a lot.
However, her below-par ball handling ability shows she still has a lot to learn in that regard, and she’s not the first from the crop.
Nigerian female goalies, and to a great extent, male goalkeepers struggle to deal with aerial balls. What Oyono lacks in height, which is requisite in some areas of goalkeeping, she has in stunning reflexes and must be why she got the nod.
The training of goalkeepers have to be refocused in Nigeria, with ball handling and passing expected to be significant trainings to do.
5. Nigeria has enough young footballers
Prior to now, age cheating was always a topic of discourse amongst Nigerian football fans during age-grade tournaments.
The current crop of the Falconets have turned things around as they are not just very young, but very good on the ball too and need just some little finishing.
There are tonnes of others waiting for opportunities to showcase their talents and the ages of these players mean they can go all the way in their careers now that the world has seen them.
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