Who Leads Super Falcons As 15th Head Coach?

Who Leads Super Falcons As 15th Head Coach?
Who Leads Super Falcons As 15th Head Coach?

Harry Awurumibe

It is no longer news that the contract of Randy Waldrum, the erstwhile head coach of Nigeria’s senior women’s national team Super Falcons ended on Tuesday, October 31, 2023 with the gaffer not reporting at his duty post on the last days of his tenure.

Coincidentally, Waldrum’s contract with the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) ended on a day Nigeria played a crucial 2024 Paris Olympics women’s football African qualifiers return leg match against Ethiopia at Moshood Abiola National Stadium, Abuja. Super Falcons won the match 4-0 after playing out a 1-1 draw in the first leg tie at Abebe Bekila Stadium in Addis Ababa last week to qualify for the 3rd round of the qualifiers on 5-1 goals aggregate without the expatriate manager. 

Sadly, the American-born Waldrum who had a running contract with NFF which receives federal government’s subvention and allocations through appropriation to pay his salary and allowances for the past two years  brazenly decided to stay away from the double-header against Ethiopia. 

Firstly, he excused himself from leading Nigeria out to prosecute the two matches against Ethiopia on October 25 in Addis Ababa and October 31 in Abuja respectively by claiming he has to sort out an important family issues back home in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States (US).

PROMPT NEWS exclusively gathered Waldrum was persuaded to give priority to Nigeria’s crucial 2024 Paris Olympics African qualifiers double-header but he gave NFF a condition that he can only  fly into Addis Ababa for Nigeria’s first leg tie and go back to US from Ethiopia, arguing he will not be available for the return leg match in Abuja on October 31 being the last day of his contract.

With his employers uninterested about his cock and bull stories and refused to grant his  request to fly in and out of Addis Ababa and leaving the Super Falcons to their fate at a critical time, Waldrum decided to stay away from the team’s double-header against Ethiopia. 

However, investigations revealed that Waldrum’s absence in the Nigeria versus Ethiopia double-header was due to a clash of interest as he chose to stay in US to lead the Pittsburgh University women’s soccer club, Panthers in the on-going 2023 Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Championship.

Waldrum who is also the Head Coach of Pittsburgh University’s Panthers team clearly saw that the club’s ACC Championship schedule clashed with Nigeria’s 2024 Paris Olympics African qualifiers double-header and decided to dodge the national team assignment. 

Checks on Pittsburgh University’s Panthers website showed that Waldrum was on the team’s bench a day after Nigeria played out a 1-1 draw in Addis Ababa and he also led the team to qualify for the semi-final of the ACC Championship after a 2-1 win over UNC Women’s Soccer team in the quarter-final on Monday, October 30 less than 24 hours before Nigeria took on Ethiopia at Moshood Abiola National Stadium, Abuja in the return leg match of 2023 Paris Olympics African qualifiers. 

Also, Fifth-seed Panthers will face top seed, Florida State University (FSU) in the semi-final on Thursday, November 2 night which will be Friday, November 3 early morning in Nigeria just as Second-seed Notre Dame University and third-seed Clemson University will face off in the other semi-final match.

Randy Waldrum
Super Falcons Coach Randy Waldrum
It was also gathered that  Waldrum who selected the 21 players invited by NFF for the double-header against Ethiopia intentionally refused to select two of Nigeria’s rising stars defender Deborah Abiodun who plays for the Panthers and forward Onyinye Echegini of Florida State University  (FSU), a side that defeated Panthers 3-2 during the regular season  with Echegini scoring the all-important third goal for her club.

The semi-final match between Pittsburgh University and Florida State University will see ex- Nigeria’s senior women’s national team coach, Randy Waldrum, and Deborah Abiodun on the side of the Panthers trade tackles with Onyi Echegini of FSU on the other side again.

Meanwhile, in other climes the appointment of Head Coaches of national teams are done professionally with many countries preferring to headhunt, a process of sourcing the best possible candidate for the vacant position. 

This means identifying and targeting high level employees for a role that usually has significant importance for an organisation like the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), an agency empowered by law of the land to administer football on behalf of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Recently, the Royal Moroccan Football  Federation (FMRF) headhunted the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup-winning head coach of Spain senior women’s football team Jorge Vilda to replace previous manager Frenchman Reynald Pedros joined Morocco in November 2020 and led the team to their first World Cup this year in Australia and New Zealand.

Morocco became the first Arab side to qualify for the last 16, but after two friendly losses against Zambia, Pedros was dismissed and Jorge Vilda was brought in as the Moroccan football governing body did not waste precious time before appointing a coach they believe can help the country win Silverware in no distant future. 

In the past, a country like England had to headhunt incumbent Head Coach of Three Lionesses,  Sarina Weigman, a native of Netherlands was signed after leading the national team of Netherlands to win Silver-medal in the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France and also led England to same stage in 2023 in Australia.

With Waldrum’s contract with Nigeria officially over on October31, all eyes are on the NFF Executive Board led by Alhaji Ibrahim Musa Gusau to give the 11-time African champions a technically sound head coach who has a proven track records of success in the game either at club or national team job regardless of nationality, sex and creed.

But, never again will NFF hierarchy close their eyes to sign a one-sided   two-year contract, the type  the federation gave to Waldrum in 2020, knowing before hand that he owes his loyalty to Panthers women’s soccer club rather than the Giant of Africa’s most successful national team. 

Apparently aware that the contract with the NFF was skewed in his favour, the American gaffer got away with his barefaced idiosyncrasies which came to a head when he queried his employers using international media, over Federation of International Football Association (FIFA) World Cup preparations fund. 

He took to the social and mainstream media to attack the NFF,  behaving like an “untouchable” and accusing the federation of not preparing the Super Falcons ahead of the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup final in Australia and New Zealand. 

he issue of players’ invitations and payment of his salary and players’ allowances became the order of the day on the eve of the World Cup with players reportedly threatening to boycott the opening match against Canada.

The shenanigans went on for too long to warrant the NFF Director of Communications, Mr. Ademola Olajire to author a rebuttal on the instruction of the secretariat describing Waldrum as “blabber mouth” and reminded him that FIFA fund was used to organise several top quality international friendly matches for the Super Falcons under his watch.

NFF was right on this point because never in the 32 years history of Super Falcons has any head coach had the privilege of playing several Grade A international friendly matches organized by the federation as Waldrum benefited in two years as his team was pitched against the best in the world including United States, Canada, Japan and Mexico ahead of the last FIFA Women’s World Cup.

As Super Falcons head coach commencing January 2021, Waldrum played a total of 19 friendly matches arranged by the NFF starting with the Festival Women’s Trophy in Antalya, Turkey from February 15 to 24,2021. His team also played in Summer Series in USA twice, 6-Nation Invitational Friendlies tagged Aisha Buhari Cup in Lagos and international friendlies in Canada, Japan, Mexico and Australia.

Waldrum was appointed as the coach of the Super Falcons in 2020 and took the team to international tournaments; the 2022 Women’s African Cup of Nations (WAFCON) and the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup.

Waldrum also led Nigeria to play a fourth-place finish at 2022 Women’s African Cup of Nations (WAFCON) in Morocco which qualified the team for the 2023 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, just as he had played two pre-WAFCON qualifier double-header against Ghana.

The five matches in Morocco and a dozen friendlies before and after WAFCON were all pre-World Cup preparatory matches for the coach to build a strong team for the global football fiesta yet he complained of lack of preparations for Super Falcons.

Overall, the Super Falcons under the tutelage of Waldrum played a total of 31 matches with 13 wins, four draws and 14 losses. The above results showed clearly that the American football tactician fell short of expectations if compared to the record of the last expatriate manager of Super Falcons, Thomas Dennerby from Sweden who spent only one year but won 2018 WAFCON Trophy in Ghana, qualifiedv Nigeria for the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France and led the country to the Round of 16.

For a long time, the issue of combining the Super Falcons job with the Pittsburgh University soccer team role for Waldrum has been a course of worry for football enthusiasts within and outside Nigeria, although NFF seems to tolerate such an arrangement that negates all logic, contractual arrangement and best practice.

From 2020 when he signed the contract which expired on Tuesday, Waldrum has not spent one week in Nigeria nor watched one single Nigeria Women’s Football League (NWFL) unlike coach Dennerby who lived in Nigeria, went round the country to watch women’s league matches from where he selected players for Super Falcons camp.

Dennerby also invited some national U-17 and U-20 players like goalkeeper Chiamaka Nnadozie; defenders Glory Ogbonna and Chidinma Okeke; midfielders Christy Ucheibe and Rasheedat Ajibade to Super Falcons hand took them to WAFCON and World Cup in Ghana and France respectively within his short stay in Nigeria.

Finally, there is no argument that Waldrum preferred the Panthers to Nigeria hence the coach failed to turn up for the team’s Olympic qualifiers doubleheader with Ethiopia, two games his Nigerian assistants, Justin Madugu, Ann Agumanu-Chiejine and Auwal Makwalla prosecuted without difficulties and qualified Nigeria for the 3rd round.

The interim head coach Madugu and assistants have done a good job when Waldrum abandoned the ship mid stream hence they should be allowed to continue to finish what they have started, after all they have been with Super Falcons since 2018 with Dennerby and 2020 to date with Waldrum.

The NFF should instead appoint either Jòrgen Petterson who was Dennerby’s Physical Trainer or Quigley Adrian Kyle, who joined the Super Falcons as Physical Trainer during the short training camp in Australia and worked with Waldrum at the World Cup proper.
The federation did the same thing by appoint a Physical Trainer, Thomas Orblah from Germany during the tenure of former Super Falcons head coach Eucharia Uche at 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Germany.

This is the right way the NFF should travel instead of handing Waldrum a new contract which this time will portray the federation as an unserious organisation that can tolerate mediocre performance and bad behaviour of its employees. This will not be good for the image of the acclaimed “Giant of Africa”, Nigeria.

See List of All Super Falcons’ Games Under Randy Waldrum

2021 Turkish Women’s Cup
*Nigeria 1-0 CSKA Moscow
(Chinwendu Ihezuo 18′)
*Nigeria 1-0 Uzbekistan
(Halimatu Ayinde 51′)
*Nigeria 9-0 Equatorial Guinea
(Glory Ogbonna 9, Asisat Oshoala 12′ 13′ 26′ 85′, Uchenna Kanu 36′, Charity Adule 39′, Toni Payne 43′, Gift Monday 70′)

US Summer Series (2021)
*Jamaica 1-0 Nigeria
(Deneisha Blackwood 51′)
*Portugal 3-3 Nigeria
(Chidinma Okeke O.G 22′, Carole Costa 34′, Telma Encarnacao 49′ | Michelle Alozie 44, Dianna Gomes O.G 52′, Rasheedat Ajibade 90+5′)
*USA 2-0 Nigeria
(Christen Press 45+2′, Lynn Williams 90+4′).

Aisha Buhari Cup 2021
*Nigeria 2-0 Mali
(Gift Monday 83′ 90+1′)
*Nigeria 2-4 South Africa
(Vivian Ikechukwu 47′ 53′ | Sarah Nnodim O.G 5′, Linda Motlhalo 17′ 87′, Gabriel Salgado 44′)

WAFCON Qualifiers
*Nigeria 2-0 Ghana
*Ghana 1-0 Nigeria

Int’l.Friendlies (2022)
*Canada 2-0 Nigeria
(Jessie Fleming 51′, Vanessa Giles 72′)
*Canada 2-2 Nigeria
(Christine Sinclair 49′, Shelija Zadorsky 88′ | Ifeoma Onumonu 5′, Rasheedat Ajibade 53′)

*Nigeria 1-2 South Africa
(Rasheedat Ajibade 90+2′ | Jermaine Seoposenwe 61′, Hildah Magaia 63′)
*Botswana 0-2 Nigeria
(Ifeoma Onumonu 21, Christy Ucheibe 48′)
*Nigeria 4-0 Burundi
(Rasheedat Ajibade 25′, Peace Efih 28′, Uchenna Kanu 29′ 46′)
*Cameroon 0-1 Nigeria
(Rasheedat Ajibade 56′)
*Morocco 1-1 Nigeria (5-4 on penalties)
(Sanaa Mssoudy 66′ | Uchenna Kanu 62′)
*Nigeria 0-1 Zambia
(Chiamaka Nnadozie O.G 28′)

International Friendlies
*USA 4-0 Nigeria
(Sophia Smith 14′ 45+1′, Lindsey Horan 25′, Alex Morgan 52′)
*USA 2-1 Nigeria
(Tosin Demehin O.G 24′, Rose Lavelle 66′ | Uchenna Kanu 50′)
*Japan 2-0 Nigeria
(Mina Tanaka 64′ 68′)

2023 Revelation Cup
*Mexico 1-0 Nigeria
(Kiana Palacios)
*Colombia 1-0 Nigeria
(Lina Caicedo 9′)
*Nigeria 1-0 Costa Rica
(Esther Okoronkwo 45′)

Int’l Friendlies, Turkey
*Nigeria 2-1 Haiti
(Esther Okoronkwo 45+, Asisat Oshoala 57′ | Melchie Dumornay 75′)
*Nigeria 3-0

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