More than a year after Thomas Dennerby quit the women’s national team in unceremonious fashion, the Super Falcons of Nigeria finally have a new head coach.
The Nigeria Football Federation, NFF announced the appointment of Randy Waldrum as the new Falcons boss on Monday, tasking the American with the responsibility of taking the team to the next level.
“We envision a new Super Falcons squad competing favourably for laurels at the global level, and I believe the new technical crew led by Mr. Waldrum can take us to that level”, NFF president Amaju Pinnick, said of the appointment.
The Nigerian team is by far the most successful women’s team in African football, but the reigning continental champions have had their troubles in the last few years, notably failing to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics.
The Falcons used to be sure bankers in Africa, but now, we have to think twice before putting our money on the team on bet9ja or any other bookie!
Is Waldrum the man to restore Nigeria’s dominance and take the team to new heights?
The news of his appointment has not gone down too well with many Nigerian football fans.
The main grouse is that Waldrum will be combining the Falcons job with his current role as head coach of the Pittsburgh University women’s team. In a bizarre twist, the American took up the Pittsburgh job in 2017 after turning down an opportunity to manage the Falcons.
Waldrum has already addressed this issue, insisting that he is fully committed to Nigeria and understands what is expected of him.
“I also understand the full commitment that it takes for my time, for training camps, games, scouting, player management, staff development, and of course team development”, he told Goal.com.
“These expectations are very clear and I’m anxious to get started. In fact, I will be the one pushing the federation for more opportunities to prepare and train, I’m quite sure”.
One of his most immediate tasks will be to mastermind a successful defence of the African Women’s Cup of Nations, which will now be held in 2022 following the cancellation of the 2020 edition.
Despite Nigeria’s failure to qualify for the Olympics, the Falcons are still the No. 1 team on the continent and will be odds on favourites on many betting sites to retain their African crown.
The reservations on Waldrum’s appointment are understandable, but if we look beyond the sentiments, there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic about this move.
Waldrum is well respected in American women’s football.
He brings with him plenty of experience, having been involved with women’s football since the 1980’s. He is regarded as one of the greatest coaches in American collegiate football, famously leading the University of Notre Dame to two national championships in 2004 and 2010.
If you are that highly-rated in American women’s soccer, then you certainly know what you are doing!
Waldrum has also coached in the National Women’s Soccer League- the highest division in American women’s football- spending three seasons with the Houston Dash.
He has spent a huge chunk of his 40-year coaching career in the collegiate system, but the new Falcons boss is no stranger to international football, having managed the Trinidad and Tobago women’s national team between 2014 and 2016.
He led the T and T to a respectable fourth-placed finish at the 2014 CONCACAF women’s championships, while the Women Soca Warriors narrowly missed out on qualification for the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup. The 64-year-old has also managed the US Under-23 women’s team.
Waldrum’s role with various university teams in the USA means he is well versed in working with young players and nurturing talents. That will come in very handy for the Super Falcons.
To that effect, the coach is already looking beyond the immediate future, revealing that he has a ten-year plan for the Falcons, leading up to the 2031 World Cup.
“Our stars of the 2027 and 2031 World Cups are between 10-12 years old currently, so let’s get them in the proper environment now”.
The new boss has talked the talk, let’s now hope he can walk the walk.