Super Falcons head coach, Randy Waldrum believes the Summer Series – a 4-Nation invitational tournament – has been a good experience and also an opportunity to assess the development of the Nigerian women’s team.
The African champions showed they are no pushovers despite losing by two goals to four-time world champions and four-time Olympic champions USA in the last game of the tournament which was played at the admirable Q2 Stadium in Austin, Texas. It was the first-ever international friendly between both countries.
Coach Waldrum made only one change from the pulsating draw with Portugal on Sunday, with Esther Okoronkwo taking the place of new discovery Ifeoma Onomonwu.
“The Summer Series has come at a good time for us, as we were able to see a number of new players,” the coach added.
“The girls also came up against strong teams and did not fare badly. Lessons have been learned and I am delighted with our performance and general attitude on and off the pitch.”
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Christian Press scored the Americans’ first goal in time added-on in the first half with an assist from Carli Loyd. The goal came after several brilliant saves by Super Falcons’ number one Tochukwu Oluehi, who was kept very busy in the opening half.
In the second half, Waldrum introduced Akudo Ogbonna, Charity Adule, and Gift Monday at different times to rejuvenate the play of the nine-time African champions, but this effort did not curtail the pressure of the Americans until substitute, Lynn Williams scored the second goal in the dying minutes.
“I’m proud of their performance. We obviously had to defend more and we knew we would against the US, considering where they are particularly with preparations for the Olympics, they are in top form. For my team, we are just beginning, considering the lateness of players getting here and not having the full squad here.
“The professionalism of the players in the entire tournament is something that I’m extremely proud of and they gave a great effort out there against the US. We gave a goal up in the 46th minute and a goal late in the 94th minute and played a very competitive game against the top team in the world. So, I’m extremely pleased with them,” Waldrum said.
The next assignment for the Super Falcons is the first round qualifying series for the 12th Women African Cup of Nations where they will take on the Black Queens of Ghana and Waldrum is confident his team will be ready.
“I think by the time October rolls around, we will be in a good place. These tight games have prepared us for it and as I’ve always said, they will expose our weaknesses and where we have to improve,” the American noted.
The winner between Nigeria and Ghana will play the winner of the Niger/Ivory Coast fixture in the second and final round of the qualifying process scheduled for October this year.