Completesportsnigeria.com's JOHNNY EDWARD appraises the performance of Nigeria's women national football team, the Super Falcons in their 2016 Women's Africa Cup of Nations Group B match against Ghana's Black Queens in Limbe Cameroon on Wednesday. He highlights five salient issues that the Nigerian ladies and their coaches must accept and work harder on, for progression in the tournament.
1. Falcons Lack Steel in Midfield
The Super Falcons need to bolster their midfield and show more grit in their play if they are to mount a serious title defence at the on-going Women's Africa Cup of Nations Championship. The trio of Rita Chikwelu, Halimat Ayinde and Osarenoma Igbinova lacked the power to match the Ghanaian five man midfield that coach Yusif Basigi deployed in the game to sniff out the rampaging attack of the Super Falcons. They failed to win duels in midfield and failed to create chances for the strikers utilize. In the seven previous meetings, the Falcons have won three and lost one, with three draws.
2. No Plan B
Black Queens coach, Yusif Basigi lined up a five man midfield to stop the Super Falcons' free flowing attacking football and it was evident that the coach Florence Omagbemi led coaching crew had no plan B to counter her opposite number as her side were second best throughout the game. That tactics worked well for Basigi’s side as they did not only stop the reigning champions from playing, they bullied them and ensured they did not make an attempt at goal.
3 Falcons Are Guilty of Several Misplaced Passes
The absence of Evelyn Nwabuoku at the AWCON in Cameroun has further exposed the Super Falcons frailties in midfield. The team obviously missing her great passing skills from the middle. Against Ghana, no Falcons midfielder broke up opposition attacks and created goal scoring opportunities for the forwards to score. Little wonder Rita Chikwelu struggled to string good passes from midfield for her teammates. Nwabuoku's versatile nature and ability to shoot from long distances was clearly missing.
4. Team Lack Inspirational leader
Much has been said about finding an adequate replacement for Evelyn Nwabuoku in the team, but it’s going to be one of the hardest things Florence Omagbemi will ever have to do in this tournament.
Nwabuoku until her unfortunate injury inspired the team with her near-impeccable ability to organise the midfield, read danger and bark the correct orders when the need arises. Against Ghana, nobody took up that mantle, even the 28 year old Rita Chikwelu failed and had to be replaced on the hour mark after her error that cost the team maximum points.
5. Dearth of Top Quality Full-backs
The Super Falcons need quality full-backs, especially a quick and dependable one. The likes of Faith Ikidi cannot be trusted in the big games as it was obvious against Ghana.