The intriguing case of Kadiri Ikhana and the unfulfilled potential of the Falcons

The women’s national team coach threw in the towel after the Falcons failed to get on the podium in Equatorial Guinea – the first time for the team in nine attempts

By Babajide Alaka | Deputy Editor

After the distinct humiliation of finishing fourth at the just concluded Africa Women Championship (AWC), the coach of the team, Kadiri Ikhana did the honourable thing (which is not common to these shores) and offered his resignation to his employers – the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF). It is an act which I presume would have been gleefully accepted as somebody’s cousin will now be able to get the job and contribute to eating and not baking the national cake.

But that is beside the point. The ignominious fall of women’s football has been on the cards for a very long time and the reality has just come to the fore. Wise people use foresight in matters like this to predict the future but we seem to be lacking that cadre of men, or women, for that matter in our football house.

When the Falcons did not qualify for the 2012 Olympics football event, what was the response of the ‘eggheads’ at the Glass House – “do not press the panic button, it will all come together again in Equatorial Guinea when we win the AWC again,” but that bubble has now been busted.

So where do we go from here? Questions need to be asked and answers proffered, especially by the Technical Committee of the NFF. Where has the team gone wrong and what should be done to get back on our high African pedestal at least?

Firstly, how did we expect to continue to be the alpha and omega of African women football without a thriving women's league? I, joined by millions of women football fans, will be very desirous of getting an answer to this question. What has the football house done to improve women’s football in the country?

And as we expect answers to these questions, there are things that a little common sense will help achieve; look at the cadet teams and promote the very talented ones immediately to the senior team and let some of the ‘aged’ Falcons have a deserved retirement.

Two, get a foreign technical adviser into the team. We should take a cue from the USA team – with all the titles and awards, they have just appointed an Australian to take over the team, after they won the Olympics – that is wisdom.

Three, we just have to create a league for the talents that abound around us, even if it is a community league played in four venues around the country. There is too much wastage of scarce resources when we you tell unfunded teams to play on a home and away basis. Get all the teams together four times a year and let them play round-robin and cumulatively, whichever team garners the most points wins the league and some good prize money.

That is the way to go and then the answers to the questions posed above can then be implemented. We must do something quickly before we start hearing this – “there are no more minnows in football” – there are still minnows in women’s football but Nigeria has to stay top of the heap, at least in Africa.