Many were wondering what could have happened to the free-scoring girls who have just metamorphosed into profligacy experts at the critical moments.
I would also like to add that the immense pressure placed on the girls’ young shoulders was also contributory to this perceived tactical naiveté. It is noteworthy that the government and some other stakeholders promised them this and ahead the final match.
The second reason why the world cup did not land in Abuja has to do with an issue which FIFA will do well to address in order to save the beautiful game. It has to do with the quality of refereeing. The goal scored by Oshoala that was disallowed by the Canadian referee, Carol Anne Chénard, for being an offside in the 85th minute was nothing of the sort – it was wrongly disallowed, meaning in truth that the Falconets actually won within the regulation time.
It would be recalled that the problem of poor decision of referees undermining the game football is real and the evidence is damning and ought not to be trivialized We can all remember Frank Lampard’s superb goal against Germany in the Round of 16 in the South Africa 2010 World Cup which everyone saw to have crossed the line and landed behind German keeper, Manuel Neuer.
From Nigeria’s perspective, when Nduka Ugbade led a team of youngsters to the maiden U-16 World Cup triumph in China in 1985, the competition, then being sponsored by Kodak, was known as Kodak/FIFA U-16 World Tournament.
Immediately the unexpected happened as Nigerian won the inaugural edition, Kodak withdrew its sponsorship.
Reason? Probably because Nigeria was not considered as a heavy consumer of Kodak products and the sponsors reckoned it a loss for an outsider like Nigeria to emerge beneficiaries of its sponsorship deal. But two years later in Canada, when the competition was being sponsored by another multinational giant, JVC, Nigerian Golden Eaglets still went the all way to the final, leaving in their trails as casualties, countries like Boliva Australia and Italy.
Nigeria last opponents were the defunct USSR. Within the first few minutes, Russia had scored! Nigerian fighting spirit came to the fore and Philip Osondu levelled the score.
Then, after intense ding-dong affair, Oladimeji Lawal collected the ball, dribbled past three opponents into the USSR goalmouth and was just about to unleash a rocket into the Russians’ net when the Brazilian Referee, Jose Ramiz Wright, blew his whistle to stop the move.
A similar scenario occurred in 2005 during the final match of the FIFA U-20 World Championship in Holland. FIFA certainly has to do more in the area of fine-tuning quality of decisions by match officials to restore dignity and credibility to the game of football.
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