‘How to survive Olympics’ group of death’

In the build-up to the last FIFA Women’s World Cup co-hosted by Australia and New Zealand, the Super Falcons suffered a 0-2 defeat to Japan in a friendly match played at the Noevir Stadium in the city of Kobe.

That defeat in October 2022 was the Super Falcons’ third in the hands of the Nadeshiko, although the Nigerians had defeated them once in 2004 when they met for the first time at the Olympic Games in Athens, Greece.
In that friendly encounter in Kobe, the Super Falcons were outplayed and overrun by the Japanese, who dominated the game from the first whistle till the end.
After missing three editions of the Olympic Games in London 2012, Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020, the Super Falcons, on Tuesday, qualified for the Paris 2024 Olympics Games by playing a 0-0 draw with the Banyana Banyana of South Africa in Pretoria. They picked the ticket courtesy of their 1-0 victory in Abuja last week.
In Paris, Nigeria will face former world champions, Japan, current world title holders, Spain and powerhouse Brazil in Group C. For the Super Falcons to navigate their way out of the ‘tight group,’ former international and ex-coach of Eko United FC, Adegoke Adelabu, has advised the coaches to evaluate the team’s performances in the last competition; especially concerning the ability to play to instructions and the relevance of the tactics to the potential abilities of the players.
“There are times when a team may qualify for a competition not because they are tactically adequate, but because their opponents too were not good enough,” Adelabu said.

“The coaches need to get some tapes about the opponents (Japan, Spain and Brazil) to study the way they played and identify their strengths and weaknesses.”

The former IICC Shooting Stars of Ibadan winger, now a Sports Scientist, stated that the Super Falcons must be psychologically prepared for the Paris Olympics through relevant training principles to increase their endurance capacity.
“The issue is if your opponent is technically or tactically better than you, it will drain your energy quickly if you are not physically fit at least to disturb their moves. The Super Falcons should know their own areas of strength and try to impose it on the opponents as occasions demand,” he stated.
To former Nigerian volleyball player, Faustina Phillips, who spoke with The Guardian, yesterday, from her base in Winnipeg, Canada, the only way the Super Falcons can survive the ‘Group of death’ at the Paris 2024 Olympics is for Nigeria to move beyond the tribal/ethnic distribution and go for the best players, whether they are from one geopolitical region or not.
The Guardian recalls that one notable encounter between the Super Falcons and Brazil was the quarterfinal tie at USA ’99, when the Nigerian team, led by the late coach Ismaila Mabo, narrowly lost 4-3 to a 104th minute golden goal after they came from 0-3 down to equalise 3-3.

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