• ‘NFF not treating women’s team well’
• Zambia faces Brazil, China, The Netherlands in Group F
Former Super Falcons coach Ismaila Mabo says the team’s failure to qualify for the Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan, was as a result of ‘poor attention’ given to the women team by the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF).
After missing out at London 2012 and Rio 2016 Olympic Games, the Super Falcons crashed out in the race to Tokyo 2020, following a 1-1 draw with visiting Cote d’Ivoire in Lagos after both teams played out a goalless draw in Abidjan. It was the third straight Olympics miss for Nigeria.
To Mabo, who led the Super Falcons to quarterfinal at the USA ’99 FIFA World Cup, Nigeria’s best ever record at the senior level, missing back-to-back Olympic Games in the women football is bad for the country’s image.
The exit of the Super Falcons, Nigeria’s most successful team, in the race to Tokyo in 2019, was the culmination of a crisis that engulfed the team soon after the FIFA World Cup in France.
Then, the Swedish coach Thomas Dennerby, who led the team to the World Cup, claimed he was sabotaged by top NFF officials. He walked out on the team before the Olympics qualifier against Cote d’Ivoire, leaving coach of the U-20 women team, Chris Danjuma, to take charge in an interim capacity.
Mabo, who spoke to brila.net yesterday, stressed that the NFF failed to play its role hence the team missed three straight Olympic Games and also struggled at the World Cup. This is bad, he said, when ompared to his time when the team got to the quarterfinal of the World Cup, as well as appeared at Greece 2004 Olympics football event.
“The NFF isn’t treating the Super Falcons well and that’s the truth about it. In the past, the Super Falcons went far in every competition, either the World Cup or the Olympics. Then, the NFF will prepare Super Falcons adequately by putting the team into periodic camping.”
Zambia women’s football team, Africa’s only representative at Tokyo 2020 Olympics, are in Group F, alongside Brazil, eight-time Asian champions, China and Netherlands, who are currently ranked number three in the world.