How Banyana Banyana outfoxed Super Falcons in Lagos with youthful team

By Harry Awurumibe, Africa’s No.1 Women’s Football Journalist

Youthful South African duo of Linda Motlhaloand Thembi Kgatlana dancing away after the former scored a penalty goal in the 4-2 thrashing of Super Falcons

The handwriting was on the wall  that Super Falcons, as presently constituted, will have to undergo a surgical operation to be able to  compete with the emerging forces like South Africa if the 4-2 loss to Banyana Banyana in the final of the 6-Nation Invitational Friendly Matches held in Lagos is to be considered.

Three first half goals in the 6′ (OG) -Mitchell Alozie; 19′ (Pen) -Linda Motlhalo and 44′ -Gabriela Salgado as well as 86′ (pen) – Makhabane Mamello ensured that South Africa handed a bitter defeat to Nigeria at her backyard and on a day the organizers of the week-long Lagos 6-Nation Invitational Mini- championship rolled out the red carpet to celebrate “a great event”.
But it was not to be as the Banyana Banyana spoilt the party by the rare high scoreline against their “nemesis” in the African continent in both male and female football competitions since 1990s. In fact, the scoreline would have been higher if Banyana had been clinical in front of Nigerian goal post.
Although the Super Falcons flattered to deceive with their 2-0 victory over hapless Mali’s Les Aiglonnes (Female Eagles) in the first match of the competition, they could not repeat the magic in the tie against more youthful and  superior quality side like Banyana Banyana on Tuesday, September 21, 2021.

Ellis in Cloud 7…Banyana Banyana Head Coach Desiree Ellis celebrated victory over Super Falcons in Lagos like never before.

Like the proverbial ‘antelope that danced itself lame before the real dancing competition will commence’, the Super Falcons were on the backfoot on the day as the porous backline led by Onome Ebi was ccommitting all sorts of avoidable technical errors.

Such errors caused  Nigeria dearly, an own goal (og) by Alozie and two penalties committed by Ebi and defence partner Glory Ogbonna, gifted the South Africans three free goals on the day.
A second half fight back by Super Falcons saw another home-based player, Vivian Obianujunwa Ikechukwu scoring a brace like Gift Monday of FC Robo who also scored a brace in the first match against Mali but the two goals were not enough to win the game.
However, South Africa’s victory over Nigeria was destined to happen as modern football belongs to the youth which was why Banyana Banyana defeated the Super Falcons who are the older of the two teams.
A closer look at the 18-member South African squad for the 6-Nation Invitational Tournament in Lagos showed that Head Coach Desiree Ellis has overhauled the 21-woman list she paraded two and half years ago in African Women’s Cup of Nations (AWCON ) Ghana 2018 final.
Ellis, a former Banyana Banyana inspirational captain, has weeded out older players born from 1988 upwards and retained those born in  the 1990s and 2000. Out of 21 players in the 2018 squad she retained 10 and retire 11 players.

Down and Out…Super Falcons goalkeeper, Chiamaka Nnadozie watch helplessly as Mitchell Alozie diverted the 1st goal into her own net early in the game to unsettle Nigeria.

Ten of the retained players came to the Lagos tournament and only 7 started against Nigeria on Tuesday while the rest of the squad are fresh legs hence the younger players outsmarted the older Super Falcons.

For Super Falcons Team, the reverse is the case as almost the AWCON 2018 players are retained in the present team. They include Onome Ebi (38), Toochukwu Oluehi (34), Faith Ikidi-Michael (34), Rita Chikwelu (33) and Osinachi Ohale (30).
Also in the present team are Amarchi Okoronkwo (29), Francisca Ordega (28), Desire Oparanozie (28), Ngozi Okobi-Okeoghene (28), Asisat Oshoala (27) and Halimat Ayinde (26) among others.
With some of the above mentioned players playing in as many AWCON, FIFA Women’s World Cup final and Olympics competitions, they may have served their fatherland meritoriously and deserve to call it quits with national team duties.
But who will bell the cat? Those who are at the helm of affairs and their supporters may lynch anyone who try to suggest that the youth should be given the opportunity in the Super Falcons.

Not a laughing Matter. .. Head Coach of Super Falcons, Randy Waldrum has to carry out a surgical operation for his team to get back to the winning ways in the near future.

Genuine women’s football promoters  and followers of over three decades (1991 to 2021) will bear witness that gone are the days Nigeria’s Super Falcons were undefeated in African continent from 1991 to 2002 in Warri by Ghana and, also beat South Africa 7-1 in Johannesburg.

Yet, those who helped to put Nigeria in the world map of women’s football playing nations have been relegated to the background while the new  “internet warriors” and their backers are pranting around answering “the apostles” of the game hence the nose-dive of the performance of the Super Falcons.
Harry Awurumibe, a Two-time Pepsi Best Women’s Football Writer of the Year Award Winner-1998 and 2000, lives in Abuja, Nigeria

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