By Pat Muo
Peter Devdevo wiped his fore head with an handkerchief. He had just emerged from a gruesome meeting with members of the Nigeria Football Federation’s technical committee.
Standing with hands akimbo, the new head coach of the U-20 female national team, the Falconets, mentally assessed the outcome of the meeting and said to himself: “Nigerians should be patient. I know we’ll come out of Equatorial Guinea unscathed.”
Devdevo’s troubles started last weekend. His master, Edwin Okon, the immediate past head coach of the Super Falcons, had just been refused an extension of his contract by the Nigeria Football Federation. Devdevo had therefore, been elevated to head the coaching crew of both the Super Falcons and Falconets.
Devdevo’s first major assignment was to qualify the Falconets to the Olympic games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil later this year.
Unfortunately for Devdevo, Equatorial Guinea, a country in which female football enjoys wide fellowship, was the first opponent. Two weeks ago, the girls of that country came calling in Calabar. At the end of the encounter, the Falconents and Devdevo disappointed. They couldn’t beat Equatorial Guinea! They had emerged from that home match with a 1-1 draw!
Peter Devdevo was devastated. More people had opposed his appointment on grounds of inexperience. His master, Edwin Okon, was far better than him. But Okon’s best was not good enough for the Super Falcons. Those who opposed Devdevo’s appointment brandished this as their major reason. Devdevo must not be made to step into that position, they argued. The only option therefore, left for Devdevo was to prove to these detractors that he could do this job. How? Obviously through hardwork.
Convinced that this would work, Devdevo buried himself into preparing the national U-20 female football team, the Falconets, for the Olympic qualifiers. The first game was to be against Equatorial Guinea in Calabar.
Being a home game, Devdevo felt it was an advantage. But after the cracker in Calabar last weekend, it became clear to the coach that he was yet to cut his teeth in handling the female teams as head coach.
Promptly, the NFF technical committee summoned him to explain the situation. “Nigerians should be patient with the Falconets,” he told the committee.
Felix Anyansi Agwu, head of the technical committee, was bewildered: “Is that all you have to say for playing a draw at home with Equatorial Guinea?” he asked Devdevo. “You talk to us.”
When Devdevo finally spoke, he gave the committee a clear insight into the situation in the Falconets. Today, Nigerians can relax, for the NFF technical committee has not just noted the problems in the Falconets but has solved all those impediments.
The Falconets are set to return to winning ways. They are current champions of female football in Africa in that category. They will retain that position and that implies playing in the Olympic games in Brazil later in the year. Equatorial Guinea cannot stop it.