The Super Falcons failed to qualify for the football event of the 2016 Olympics after their 2-1 away defeat to Equatorial Guinea in Bata, on Sunday in the qualifying fixtures.
The Falcons currently handled by Christopher Danjuma, on interim basis, had drawn the first leg 1-1 to put qualification on the edge.
Now, the Falcons only have the All African Games in Congo to compete in.
Former Super Falcons player and coach Eucharia Uche speaks on how to improve the lot of the team and in this exclusive interview with Completesportsnigeria.com’s IZUCHUKWU OKOSI insists the Falcons or any other Nigerian women national team do not need a foreign coach. Excerpts…
What lessons are there to be learned from the Falcons missing out of the 2016 Olympics?
We should know that gone are the days we believed other African countries cannot cause any upset.
We should learn to respect other African countries as well and not to take things for granted any more. Other African nations are working hard to be on top and to be at the World Cups and Olympics. We should not relax.
Getting to the top is easy but to remain there is another thing. It means we need to put some extra efforts to continue to be there
Would you say its time female coaches took over the national teams? Do you feel female coaches like you would have fared better in the 2015 World Cup in Canada and the Olympic Games qualifiers against Equatorial Guinea?
The issue of women taking over the national team is not mandatory. Though I believe that credible women coaches like my humble self, Ann Chiejine and Florence Omagbemi should not be left out of the technical crews of both the Super Falcons and other women’s national teams.
These coaches I mentioned, plus myself, are pioneer members of the Super Falcons from 1991 and have been consistent as players and coaches in women football till date.
We are mothers and coaches. With a woman in charge of the female teams, the players will unlock themselves from their shelves, express themselves better and flow in and out of the pItch.
We should be patient with our female coaches and give them the support needed. England women national team was led by a woman for 11 years. Women coaches have won the World Cup severally.
The short time I was with Falcons you will agree with me that before and after that period of time, the Super Falcons have not been able to repeat the form and standard of football they exhibited then. (Uche led the team to win the 2010 African Women Championship).
I brought myself to their level, I danced and played with them. Then, we cracked jokes together to help them bring out the best in them. Players like to work in an environment they will be relaxed in.
There are things they feel free to discuss with me that they cannot say to any other coach, especially if it’s a male one. I’m not saying its mandatory to have women lead the women teams, but at the same time, we should not be swept under the carpet
So even if it’ss a woman, you support the idea of the Nigeria Football Federation employing a foreign coach for the Super Falcons?
I am not the Nigeria Football Federation. They manage football in Nigeria. But if you ask for my opinion, I do not think that we need a foreign coach for our women’s national teams, be it a woman or a man. That’s not what we need. It is not right because there are quality female coaches in Nigeria to coach all the national teams.
Would you say the absence of players like Asisat Oshoala and Francesca Ordega contributed to the defeat against Equatorial Guinea in Sunday’s Olympic Games qualifier?
I don’t believe in indispensability of players. We have array of players who if properly handled and positioned, can win matches for us. The players you mentioned their names were not regular players in the national team before, so I don’t believe their absence rubbed us of a ticket for the Olympics.
If we talk of other obvious hitches one can understand, not because of the absence of players. We have many to select from, unlike our counterparts.
There are several Nigerian players in the Equatorial Guinea team. Chinasa Okoro who plays for Gintra Universitetas, for instance, is one big talent that really got away. What is responsibility for this development?
Till tomorrow, female players will continue to move to overseas for greener pasture just as their male counterparts because of better incentives, organised league, which in turn guarantees better their career. Chinasa Okoro is an example. She is now representing Equatorial Guinea. It is regrettable but that’s just how we see it.
I don’t blame them because our league is not just it at the moment. The funds are not there, motivation is gone and no healthy rivalries and competition.
How do you see the Super Falcons group for the All African Games, containing Congo, Tanzania and Cote d’ Ivoire?
I do not think the Falcons will find it difficult to qualify from the group, not at all, if they take their opponents seriously and have game plans. See, we cannot rely on the fact that it’s Nigeria against other countries. Like I said earlier, we have to take our games seriously.
Would a successful All African Games compensate for missing out of the Olympics?
I really do not think so but its a situation we cannot do anything about unless a miracle, happens somewhere. We should just learn our lessons and hope for better years ahead. We may even have upsets in the All African Games.