Former coach of Super Falcons, Ismaila Mabo, has said that Canada’s gold medal winning feat at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics women football was a conscious effort by the Canadian Soccer Association to succeed in female football despite not being at the maiden World Cup.
Canada, on Friday, beat favourites, Sweden 3-2, on penalties after the match had ended 1-1 in regulation time. The Canadian women, who first appeared in a major tournament at the 1995 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Sweden, where they drew a match and lost two in their group as they failed to advance to the next round.
Speaking to The Guardian yesterday, Mabo said for a country that was not part of the maiden Women World Cup in China, where Nigeria was part of, to now win a gold medal at the Olympics, shows their impactful progress in female football over the years and how stagnated our female football has become.
“If you are talking about comparing our female football with that of the Canadians, everybody will agree with me that the standard of our female football is nothing to write home about because the Super Falcons and the other female national football teams have not being doing well. We have to be frank with ourselves.
“The NFF should do something drastic to restore our pride and revive female football. That is my advice to them because our administrators are not doing well, at all, honestly speaking. Canada was nowhere to be found when we took part in the maiden Women World Cup in China in 1991 and see where they are now.
“For them to have won the gold medal in the women football event at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics means they have made a tremendous progress and this doesn’t come by luck, it is through proper planning,” he said, adding that the little contributions made by him and others have been rubbished with the downward slide female football is experiencing now.
“Let me be frank with you, the current NFF doesn’t care about our female national teams. Instead of us progressing, we are moving two steps backward. That is the truth and something has to be done drastically now to regain our pride in the world.
“I will not be surprised if some other African countries apart from Ghana, Cameroun and even South Africa catch up with us because these countries are really coming up. Zambia did very well at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and they are also coming up.
“But for us, the standard of our female football is dwindling and is like nobody cares about it anymore. All we now do is to assemble these girls in a hurry each time there are matches and at the end of the day when we fail to qualify, we shift the blame on these innocent girls instead of the administrators.
“The standard of preparation now is not as it was in the days of the late Coach Paul Hamilton and Jossy (Joseph Ladipo) of blessed memories and the rest of us. Back then, the standard of women football was very high and on the rise, but now, it has fallen drastically. I felt terribly bad when I heard we were not going to the Olympics. To me, the shock was like when you start building a house with your brothers and sisters and then somewhere along the line, your brothers began to show signs of unseriousness and then the building you started with them could not be continued. How do you think I will feel?
“This is where we have found ourselves in the country and we say Nigeria belongs to all of us. I have given my own contribution to the growth of female football not only in the country, but also in Africa. Up till date, nobody has equalled my record.
“I remain the best coach in Africa whether anybody likes it or not. I took Nigeria’s women to the quarterfinals of the World Cup in the United States and at the Olympic Games in Greece. If the Super Falcons or any of the female national teams is not doing well, then I have the right to feel very bad about it. Our preparations for major competitions have been abysmal and we need to change that. To me, it because of this attitude that we failed to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics in Japan,” he stated.