With less than ten days to the commencement of the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup, Super Falcons head coach, Randy Waldrum and the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) have been at loggerheads in the past few days over different issues ranging from the team list, preparations and non-payment of salaries.
Webteam@ipledge2nigeria reports that this year’s Women’s FIFA World Cup, which will be co-hosted by Australia and New Zealand, will take place from July 20 to August 20.
Ahead of the fiesta, Waldrum said his team was not adequately prepared for the competition.
Waldrum decried the lack of support from the NFF, insisting that the federation cancel the 12 days camp in Nigeria.
“I know we are not prepared the way we need to be. [I have] been very frustrated with the federation (NFF) and the lack of support.
“We were supposed to have a camp for 10-12 days in Nigeria before going to Australia for another 10-15 days, but the federation cancelled the camp in Nigeria,” Waldrum said.
However, in a swift reaction to Waldrum’s statement, the NFF Director of Communications, Ademola Olajire said the camp in Nigeria was cancelled because the Super Falcons coach wanted it for “only home-based professionals [whom he already gave very little consideration in his provisional list].”
“Like two weeks ago, he [Waldrum] released his final list of 23, meaning there was absolutely no need for any camping for home-based again except to simply waste resources,” Olajire said.
“He knows he will not have Ajibade and Ayinde [two key players] for the opening match against Canada, yet he left out Okobi and Otu from the squad. The NFF felt it would make more sense for the 23 to go straight to Australia and camp for 15 or 16 days acclimatising to the weather and conditions.”
Following the disagreement between both parties, Waldrum later launched another scathing attack on the NFF.
The American voiced his concern over the allocation of funds made available by FIFA ahead of the competition, insisting that the NFF owes him 14 months’ salary.
Waldrum said, “In October, every country was given $960,000 from FIFA to prepare for the World Cup. Where is that money?
“Up until about three weeks ago, I had been owed 14 months’ salary, and then they paid seven months’ salary.
“We still have players that have not been paid since two years ago when we played the summer series in the USA…it is a travesty.”
NFF Director of Communications, Ademola Olajire, on Monday to react to Waldrum’s allegations, he admitted that the Nigeria football house is making efforts to pay the coach what he is owed.
Olajire said, “The NFF has not denied owing the coach [Waldrum]. Efforts are being made to pay him what he is owed.”
While examining the effect Waldrum’s squabble with the NFF could have on the Super Falcons, Engr. Audu Ojo, the head coach of Dawaki Rangers, said that “At this point, the issue of Waldrum and NFF is not supposed to be happening as the World Cup is just less than two weeks.
“Definitely, the issue of players’ selection, owing of salaries and preparation should not be the focus. What the Falcons need right now is quality preparation and all the necessary support, so that they can give their best at the competition.
“Everybody should play their role, the NFF, Waldrum and even the players so that they can put a smile on the face of Nigerians during the competition.
“The Falcons do not need distractions at the moment as they didn’t train together for about two weeks in Nigeria before they travelled to Australia for their two-week camp.
“The only effect I see is a distraction on the Falcons players because if Waldrum is being owed a salary of over seven months, then you do not expect him to give his best, and if that happens definitely, it will affect the players technically in their style of play as a team, their concentration level will drop. What will be the fate of the players, their match bonuses?
“I want to urge the NFF to do their best to pay the coach if he is being owed salary so that he can give his best; also the players, if they are being owed bonus, should be paid. I wish them the best in the competition and to carry the Nigeria flag high.”
Super Falcons are currently camped at the Mercure Hotels, Gold Coast, in Brisbane, Australia, preparing for the World Cup.
They will leave for Melbourne on the eve of their opening game against Olympic champions Canada on July 21.
Waldrum’s side will face Canada, co-hosts Australia and the Republic of Ireland in Group B.
There were reports last week that the Super Falcons were planning to boycott their clash against Canada over a bonus dispute with the NFF.
But Super Falcons captain, Onome Ebi, has since denied the report.
Ebi claimed that the report was false, insisting that the players never had a meeting where the bonus issue was discussed.
“I have no idea where that [boycott] is coming from. We [the Super Falcons players] never had any such conversations as regards that; we are good with training and ready for the World Cup,” Ebi told NFF’s official website.
Asked about the speculation that the Super Falcons might boycott the tournament, Olajire said , “The captain has already denied the report of a boycott.”