Nigerian football fans have asked the Nigeria Football Federation to retain Super Falcons coach Randy Waldrum regardless of the American’s reported soured relationship with the federation, after he led the team to the round of 16 of the Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.
The Falcons bowed out of the tournament on Monday, losing 4-2 on penalties against 10-woman England after playing out a goalless draw in 120 minutes in Brisbane. He also expressed his interest to stay with the Falcons after the game.
“I am proud of my team. I want to stay with this team and continue working towards the Olympics. But that is not a matter for me to decide,” Waldrum said during his post-match interview.
Waldrum was appointed as Falcons coach in 2020 and led the team to the 2022 Women’s African Cup of Nations and the 2023 Women’s World Cup.215
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After three years in charge, his relationship with his employers became frosty during preparations for the Women’s World Cup, with the coach reportedly denied his preferred assistant to the Mundial.
The American, who was only paid just seven months of his 14 months unpaid salary on the eve of the trip to Australia, questioned the federation over the $960,000 World Cup handed the federation by FIFA.
NFF spokesperson, Ademola Olajire, lashed out at the coach over the selection of players for the World Cup, labelling him an “incompetent loudmouth.”
But Waldrum have silenced critics and the NFF at the World Cup, qualifying from a tough group which has co-hosts Australia, Olympic champions Canada and Ireland.
After their ouster against England, the team received plaudits for their heroics at the tournament, with many fans backing Waldrum to keep his job.
“They should be humble and renew his contract, (he) defeated the hosts, held the Olympic and European champions to a draw, never lost a match over 90 minutes. The coach is tactically aware, sentiments apart,” a fan, Gbenga Olukunle, wrote on Twitter.
Journalist, Amos Joseph, also said, “NFF should be humble and renew if he wants to stay.”
Another fan, Yusuf Atolagbe, backed the American coach to keep his job with the NFF.
“We all want him gone before the tournament but after this tournament, we should not throwaway what he has done with the team. NFF should settle their differences with him and give him two years contract please.”
After leading the team to a fourth-place finish at the 2022 WAFCON in Morocco, Waldrum was criticised by many fans but has now won their hearts again with the team’s performance at the World Cup.
“NFF should renew ASAP. Continuity and the positives exhibited by this team can’t be overlooked. Great team,” another fan Lemmy Appah said.
Bube Cassy wrote, “Brought out the best in the Falcons. Best performance ever in a World Cup, retain him.”
The Falcons are billed to play Ethiopia in October as they hope to qualify for the women’s football event of the Paris 2024 Olympics, while Waldrum will also hope to lead the team to another African title in 2024 if he retains his job and they also make it to Morocco for the WAFCON.