Nigeria Women’s football coach Randy Waldrum has insisted that he remains proud of his players despite their unsuccessful Summer Series campaign drawing to a close with a 2-0 loss against the United States.
The nine-time African champions headed into their third and final match in Austin, having lost 1-0 to Jamaica without some of their key players, but the arrival of captain Asisat Oshoala and veteran Onome Ebi saw them play out to a 3-3 draw against Portugal.
Late goals in each half earned four-time World and Olympics champions USA their third win of the Series at Austin FC’s new Q2 Stadium.
“I’m proud of our performance. We obviously had to defend more and we knew we would against the US,” said Waldrum after the game.
“But considering where they are in terms of preparation as they are a few weeks away from the Olympics and they are in top form.
“I thought they gave a great effort against the US. We gave a goal up in the 46th minute and another in the 94th minute, but played a very competitive game against the top team in the world, extremely pleased with them.”
The outcome of this trip is a reality check for Nigeria who were using the games to integrate new players into the team.
“We are a team that is just beginning and considering the lateness of some of our players in getting here and not having a full squad here, the professionalism of our players in this entire tournament is something that I am extremely proud of,” he continued.
“You can’t fault this incredible mentality and absolute dedication from the players.”
In October, the African champions will face Ghana in the first round of qualifying for the 2022 Women’s Africa Cup of Nations.
Waldrum believes the experience of playing against strong teams like Jamaica, Portugal and the US will impact the team positively ahead of their continental campaign.
“I believe by the time October rolls around we will be in a good place. These games are going to prepare us, like I always say they are going to expose us where we are weak and where we have to improve.”
Nigeria are the only African team to have played in all eight Women’s World Cups since 1991, but they have failed to translate their continental dominance on the world stage.
The West Africans’ best performance at the World Cup came when they reached the quarter-finals in 1999 and with some of their best players making strides in Europe, there is a lot of expectations moving forward.
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By FARPost Reporter