Super Falcons, Randy Waldrum and England’s Wiegman

For the first time in 12 editions of the CAF Women’s Nations Cup, Nigeria’s women’s national team, the Super Falcons, have lost three matches.

Nine days after WAFCON, England’s women’s national football team, Three Lionesses, also won the European Cup for the first time.

These two events have similarities and differences.

While Nigeria’s Super Falcons are perennial African champions and were looking to maintain their dominance, the English were the near champions looking to be champions.

While the English FA have hired a proven winner in Sarah Wiegman, the Nigeria Football Federation hired Randy Waldrum.

Waldrum is currently the coach of the University of Pittsburgh women’s soccer team. Trinidad and Tobago also sacked her as women’s coach in 2016.

The results demonstrated the efficiency and strategy behind both hires. England are European champions, while Nigeria are still licking their wounds due to a botched strategy.

Tactical Analysis at WAFCON 2022

A defeat on penalties against Morocco in the semi-finals was followed by a 2-1 loss to South Africa on the first day. Zambia also beat the Falcons 1-0 in the third place game.

Although Coach Waldrum’s performance caused disagreements between fans and administrators, it will be beneficial for all parties to review all aspects of building a winning team.

These include the tactical abilities of the manager and the players, as well as an examination of the NFF’s administrative acumen.

The first question should be about the composition of the team – how the coaching staff chose the team. Individual players do not win tournaments; however, there may be exceptional players whose skills can help the team win.

The best teams have very coordinated games, with and without the ball.

They also respond to opponents in a way the whole team has discussed, planned and agreed upon.

As a result, we now have video departments, where people study opponents and use their findings to prepare the team for battle. Waldrum made some mistakes in their player selection.

It’s not a criticism of the chosen players, but the coach could have done better.

Myopia or amateur?

Starting Rita Chikwelu against South Africa was a huge blunder. The 34-year-old midfielder was too slow against the more agile South Africans, and she couldn’t get into position to counter or launch attacks quickly.

Assist Oshoala, Ifeoma Onumonu and Rasheedat Ajibade were left out of the squad and struggled to create meaningful attacking opportunities.

Chikwelu’s prominent position (graphic below) against South Africa showed his isolation from both defense and attack, depriving Nigeria of a launching pad for any attack.

Chikwelu had two successful tackles in 226 minutes in Morocco, compared to ten for Ucheibe in 371 minutes. Ucheibe also scored against Botswana, showing his ability to defend and attack.

She was also chosen by many pundits as Player of the Tournament for her all-action performances.

Chikwelu Position
Chikwelu Position

The same thing happened when Chikwelu came on for the injured Ucheibe in the third-place game against Zambia. The No.10 served Nigeria for 15 years and it’s time to say goodbye or retire.

We expect a manager to make tough choices, and this should have been one. Onumonu’s selection ahead of Gift Monday also angered many Nigerian fans.

US-based Onumonu performed well, but many wondered why the locally-based Monday didn’t receive more minutes.

Another No.9, Desire Oparozie, was notably absent from the squad, although being based in China was the plausible reason.

Despite so many talented and quick forwards, the Falcons didn’t score on the breakaway. Offensive penetration was haphazard at best.

There were so many lobbed balls from Onome Ebi or Osinachi Ohale to open up opponents’ defenses that the coaching staff lacked a comprehensive attacking training program.

With the exception of the semi-final against Morocco, where the Falcons were reduced to nine men, they had more possession in all WAFCON matches.

Lack of a game plan

The Falcons scored nine goals in Morocco, but many of them weren’t the result of a well-coordinated attacking strategy.

It was a scrambled goal against South Africa. Perhaps the opening goal against Botswana was more obvious; the second came from a corner kick. Burundi won 4-0 thanks to a penalty and the creative and inventive ability of Rasheedat Ajibade to score goals.

The idea of ​​pressing from the front was present, but it was not coordinated. This means he was discussed but not drilled into the team during practice.

Rasheedat Ajibade celebrates after scoring a goal for the Falcons
Rasheedat Ajibade celebrates after scoring a goal for the Falcons

Most modern coaches use the full press principle, but not all teams are well trained to use it consistently. Nigeria was last in Morocco.

When the opponent is well analyzed, then the management team can prepare its players to create pressure points on the opponent deemed weaker in order to trigger a flight.

South Africa was the best team faced by Nigeria at WAFCON 2022. The team coached by Desiree Ellis could play around the Nigerian press almost every time they used it in the first match.

It was more effective against neophytes in Burundi and Botswana. Nigeria scored six clean sheets in both games.

In their 2009 study “Tactical Principles of Football: Concepts and Application”, authors Israel Teoldo da Costa, Jlio Manuel Garganta da Silva, Pablo Juan Greco and Isabel Mesquita discussed the phases of play, goals and fundamental tactical principles of football. Game.

“We have separated attacks, defenses and transitions between attacks and defenses. In simple terms, the team must aim for numerical superiority in attack, avoid numerical equality throughout the two transitions and avoid numerical inferiority when defending.

Go forward

Nigeria did not encounter any of the scenarios described above in Morocco. They seemed ill-prepared and unable to conceive of solutions to the problems posed by Africa’s emerging forces. How will they react at the 2023 World Cup against teams like European champions England?

Godwin Izilein, a former Super Falcons coach, told News Agency of Nigeria: “The girls couldn’t have given more than they have.” Simply put, they did what and how they were trained to do on the playing field.

“If the coach had been a local, his dismissal would have been announced directly in Morocco.”

NFF, it’s your decision!

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