A former member of the Executive Committee of Nigeria Football Federation, Ayo Omidiran, on Friday lamented the failure of the Super Falcons to qualify for the 2020 Olympic Games.
The senior national women football team lost to Cote d’Ivoire during the qualifiers through the away goal rule, after a 1-1 aggregate over two legs.
They had drawn 1-1 in Lagos, after a goalless draw in Abidjan, making it the third consecutive time to fail to qualify for the Olympic Games football event.
But Omidiran, who is the immediate-past chairperson of NFF’s Women Football Development Committee, said the blame of Super Falcons’ exit should be placed in the right perspective.
She told the News Agency of Nigeria in Abuja that the Super Falcons’ failure was a matter of systemic problems affecting the growth of the football game in the country.
Omidiran added that Ruth David, the former Head of NFF’s Women Football Development Unit, could not be the root cause of the team’s exit as being alleged in some quarters.
“I am surprised that Ruth David was being blamed for the inability of the Falcons to qualify. How can she be the cause when she is not the coach or one of the players?
“She is a civil servant who takes directive in all she does about the national teams. Ruth is not the nemesis that some people have claimed,’’ the former member of the House of Representatives said.
Omidiran even praised David and said her contributions and experience were invaluable.
“She is an asset to women football development. As far as I am concerned, she is not and will never be the problem of women football in Nigeria.
“Her commitment and passion for women football development is total. She is very experienced and exposed to the game and you can’t just wish away such an asset.
“I have worked with her from the days when I was a board member and she was Team Secretary, and recently as Chairperson of the Women Football Development Committee, she served as the Committee Secretary.
“I therefore know her too well to believe all those trash they are saying about her,’’ she stated.
The former Proprietor of Omidiran Babes Football Club said the Super Falcons’ failure was a function of other problems.
“One of them is coach Thomas Dennerby’s sudden resignation, and another is the players’ inability to convert chances against Cote d’Ivoire in Lagos after a goalless draw in Abidjan.
“These issues cost Nigeria the Olympic Games ticket,’’ she added.
She also pointed out that other African countries were catching up on Nigeria in women football as there are no longer minnows in the game.
“We must raise our standard by playing more Grade A international friendly matches, and then more important is the fact that we must improve the game at the domestic level, since that is the production line.
“We must bring up quality players from the domestic front. It is only when such players are there for the national team can we return to our proper place in the game,’’ Omidiran said.