After disputes between associations, it was uncertain that Nigeria would compete at the World Cup. The team is now in the round of 16 against England on Monday (08/07/2023, 9:30 a.m. CEST, live stream on sportschau.de). The European champion should be warned.
You have to have a very strong position and personality as a national coach in Nigeria to dare to publicly criticize your own football federation, the NFF. Randy Waldrum did that.
The coach of the Nigerian women’s national team stood up in front of the World Cup and denounced two things: Firstly, his team’s preparations were poorly organized because, among other things, an important training camp had simply been canceled without replacement. In addition, it is irresponsible not to have paid the players the bonuses to which they are entitled.
The situation escalated when the American arrived in Australia with his team. “Incompetent loudmouth. He’s raising his voice now, just before he’s achieved his one and only goal of mentoring a team at a World Cup,” shot back NFF media director Ademola Olajire verbally.
The official accused the 66-year-old coach of only looking after the team out of personal vanity: “His only goal was always to have his CV showing that he had coached a team at a World Cup.” And verbal dirt continued to fly: “He’s the worst trainer the ‘Super Falcons’ have ever had!”
Nigeria’s place in the round of 16 – almost a miracle
The amazing thing: Even today, around three weeks after this skirmish, Waldrum is still in office. And almost a miracle: his team, Nigeria, actually reached the round of 16. And has remained undefeated so far.
The world number 40. drew 0-0 with Canada, defeated Australia 3-2 and clinched the knockout stages with a final 0-0 draw against Ireland. Translated that meant: Olympic champions Canada were knocked out of the tournament, as was the physically strong Ireland.
“Girls trusted us”
This was hardly a surprise for coach Waldrum. “The girls trusted us as a coaching team and implemented our guidelines superbly. They believed in themselves and achieved almost unimaginable things.”
For the upcoming match, he sends a message to the football world: “Why not play England? We played against the Olympic gold medalists. We played against Australia, the host country. So – bring the European champions,” he says.
He may finally have forward Desire Oparanozie to call on against England. The real star of the team, who plays for Wuhan University in China, did not play in favor of the club at the last Africa Cup of Nations (Nigeria finished fourth) and was injured in Australia in the first week of training.
Star striker Oparanozie before her first assignment
However, she was brilliantly replaced by Asisat Oshoala and Ifeoma Onumonu, who alternated in the center of attack. “She’s back in training. It shouldn’t surprise anyone when we see her on the field against England,” said Waldrum.
For Waldrum, the success of the “Super Falcons” also has something to do with the history of the World Cup. With the fact that he showed them civil courage: “I think the players appreciated that I stood up for them and spoke for them on their behalf,” he says. And he thinks: “As a coach, I have to be a voice for the girls and fight for the things they deserve.”
Facts about the game
– Matches against each other: 3 (2 wins Nigeria, 1 win England)
– FIFA Ranking: England 4th / Nigeria 40th
– Best World Cup placement: England – Third place 2015 / Nigeria Round of 16 2019
– Fun fact: England have scored at least one goal in their last 16 World Cup games. The last time you remained without a goal was in 2015 in the 0-1 draw against France.