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SABASTINE'S FLOURISH AND OTHER OBSERVATIONS FROM FALCONETS 1-0 WIN OVER FRANCE

Saturday 13 August 2022

/ by Colin Udoh

 







After the crushing disappointment of Randy Waldrum’s poorly-coached Super Falcons at the 2022 Women Africa Cup of Nations, football fans were looking up to the Falconets to restore some measure of respect back to the name at the FIFA Under 20 World Cup.


Hopes may be one thing, expectations are quite another. So, despite those hope, not many expected them to do too well against European champions France. 


Which would explain why not many Nigerians stayed up at the ungodly midnight hour that it was in Nigeria, to watch the next iteration of Super Falcons open their World Cup campaign.


But Christopher Danjuma’s girls were not to be discouraged, and completely dominated and outclassed the bigger, more physical French players in the opening 20 minutes under torrential rain.


The downpour forced the game to be suspended, and on resumption, they appeared to have lost some of their steam, the French looking marginally better in the second half of the first half.


Still, Flourish Sabastine’s well-placed goal late in the game sealed a well-earned win and three points for the Nigerian girls. More than that, their disciplined tactical play was a marked improvement from the dross Nigerians were served at WAFCON.


So what did we take away from their heartening win? Here goes


THIS IS HOW WE PLAY

Watching the Falconets play out with confidence from the back, passing the ball crisply, playing as a team, making good runs, using space and just generally making good decisions overall, reminded Nigerians exactly why they fell in love with the original Super Falcons in the first place.

Yess, the team made some basic errors and some of their decision-making, especially in the final third could have been better. But their foundations looked good, and it was clear that they were trying to play the right way. Always looking to find the open player, never ball hogging, quick, energetic and disciplined, esspecially in defence.

France, as good as they were, did not present any real threat in open play, Their most dangerous opportunities only came from corner kicks. Which takes us nicely into point 2


SET PIECE DEFENDING AND GOALKEEPING MUST IMPROVE

Almost everything the girls did was superb. The one area where they had issues was in defending set pieces, especially those lateral balls from cornerkicks. Goalkeeper Oyono Omini was having troubling dealing with crosses, flapping away at them with troubling regularity. That included one occasion when her misjudgement saw the ball bundled in by substitute Jade Nassi. Thankfully, that was chalked off - with the aid of VAR - for a foul on Omini, but the worries remain.

If the Falconets, two-time runners up, are to match and even exceed their previous results by winning the whole shebang, they will need improved showings from Omini. Or a replacement.



FLOURISH LEADS CAST OF IMPRESSIVE STARS

What a joy it was to watch Flourish Sabastine, and not just for her goal. All game long, her energy, positive attitude, fearless ability to take players on and skill on the ball marked her out as one to make a difference which she eventually did with a controlled precise finish.

But she was not alone. Skipper Oluwatosin Demehin showed why she earned an invitation to the senior squad, defending with composure, unyielding in her strength, quick to the ball and smart in making her reads of dangerous plays.

And in midfield, Esther Onyenezide showed she could be as smooth an operator as any.

Mercy Idoko’s vision to pick out Sabastine for that flourishing finish was just as worthy of commendation as any. And one needs to keep an eye on left back Rofiat Imuran

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