Nigeria/South Africa: Like Eagles, Like Falcons

Although it is said in local parlance that lightening does not strike twice at the same spot, the reverse was the case on Wednesday in Equatorial Guinea where the Super Falcons of Nigeria were knocked out of the 2012 Africa Women Championship by arch rivals South Africa.

It will be recalled that in 2008 at the same stage and same country, the Falcons were kicked out of the championship by host Equatorial Guinea, making it the first time that they would fail to defend their title. Falcons had dominated the championship by winning the past five editions.

Nigerians were therefore used to Falcons lifting the trophy and they took it for granted that other African countries too were desirous of winning. Consequently, the shock defeat in 2008 in the hands of Equatorial Guinea was a bitter pill to swallow.

Two years later, the Falcons bounced back as they thrashed Equatorial Guinea 4-1 in the 2010 finals in South Africa to lift their sixth title. It was sweet revenge. However, when CAF handed Equatorial Guinea the opportunity to host the championship for the second time, most Nigerians concluded it was the right setting for the Falcons to appropriately take back their pound of flesh.

Until the bubble burst on Wednesday, Falcons were cruising in the right direction as victory over Banyana Banyana would have brought them face to face again with Equatorial Guinea in the finals. The host country had eliminated Cameroon but the Falcons failed beat the Banyana Banyana. Thus, for those who looked beyond the semi-final clash to the final against Equatorial Guinea, it was a lesson that they should not count their chicks before they are hatched.

For many, the defeat of Falcons in the hands of South Africa did not come as a surprise because female football in the continent is no longer what it used to be. It is a known fact that other African countries too have embraced female football and have been working hard to end the dominance of the Super Falcons.

Unfortunately, the Nigerian Women league which gave the Falcons an edge over other teams on the continent has been on a steady decline and it counts for part of the factors responsible for the present woes of the female national team. Unlike in the past when the team was a sure bet, the Falcons failed to qualify for both the All Africa Games and the Olympics.

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Nigeria/South Africa: Like Eagles, Like Falcons