In this exclusive interview with Completesportsnigeria.com's IZUCHUKWU OKOSI, former Super Falcons coach, Paul Hamilton, insists that Nigerian coaches, especially ex-female internationals, are best suited to take charge of the Nigeria women national team, and strongly condemns the talks about hiring of a foreign coach by some Nigerian football enthusiasts. 'The Wonder B' also speaks about Asisat Oshoala's great future prospects and the Super Falconets' 2016 FIFA U20 Women's World Cup ambition.
Nigeria's U20 women's team on Saturday defeated South Africa 2-1 in the FIFA U20 World Cup qualifiers to set up an intriguing second leg in Johannesbourg. What do you think coach Peter Dedevbo must do to avoid an upset?
The Falconets must realise that the 2-1 victory is not a comfortable one. So as much as its good to score more goals, they must also be disciplined defensively. We know there are no more minnows in the game, so every team must be taken seriously.
South Africa are desperately looking forward to qualifying for the U20 Women's World Cup at the expense of Nigeria after clinching the only African ticket to the women's football event of the 2016 Olympics. Would you say there's a power shift now in women's football in the continent?
Nigeria remains the best African team in women football but other countries are fast catching up. I mean, its odd that Nigeria's Super Falcons will not represent Africa at the Olympics in Rio, but South Africa, not even Ghana.
The women's league in Nigeria need private sector involvement and more support from the government and the football federation. There are so many talented female players in this country but these ladies are not adequately appreciated for the glory they bring to Nigeria at continental and youth tournaments.
The Nigeria Football Federation are expected to appoint a coach for the Super Falcons. What should constitute the criteria for the appointment of the new coach?
Interest in women's football basically. Any coach the Nigeria Football Federation are going for must have a sound background in women's football because it's a different ball game. It's not easy to coach these girls.
There has been calls by some sections of football fans to have a foreign coach for the Falcons. Is this a step in the right direction?
I'm not in support of the NFF hiring a foreign coach for the Super Falcons. Nigerian coaches are better equipped to handle our teams now. Most of the countries that dominate in women's football do not hire foreign coaches. It's not something we should support, especially for the female teams.
Are there specific Nigerian coaches you feel are best qualified for the Super Falcons' job?
(Laughter) No. I will not recommend coaches to the NFF because we have so many good options. I'm a father figure to these young ones, so I cannot suggest any name. However, from our former internationals, we can get a good coach for the Falcons.
Would you recommend that female coaches only take charge of female teams as is the case in most countries that are world powers in women's football?
It doesn't necessarily mean that women must coach the female teams though it has some advantages because they understand each other better with women's issues, beyond working on the pitch or in trainings. But it's important that if a man must coach the women teams, he must be a man with self discipline, who must not take advantage of the girls. We do not want to read stories of female players saying they were sexually harassed. The male coaches must be of good morals.
The Super Falcons did not have a good World Cup outing in Canada this year and Edwin Okon was relieved of his job, but should FAs change coaches at will after a bad tournament?
It depends on circumstances. If a team played well but were just unlucky to score goals, you could understand. If it's bad officiating and it's glaring for everyone to see, that also is understandable. But a bad performance cannot be defended. The camp must also be devoid of controversies.
Coaches are not just coaches in that sense, but managers of resources who must balance the art of imparting knowledge and being leaders on and off the pitch. I feel the Falcons were unlucky at the World Cup. Okon might have fared better at the All Africa Games.
African players were, as expected, not nominated for the 2015 FIFA Women Player of the Year prize. Do you think an African player will ever win this award in women football?
I really hope our players can rise to that standard. At the moment, it's difficult, but Asisat Oshoala has shown promise that she can at least be nominated for the award one day. I won't be surprised if it happens – that she's nominated someday.
Finally, as the first coach of the Super Falcons who handled the team at the first ever Women's World Cup back in 1991, what was the challenges you faced discharging your duties then?
The game at that level was just starting so not many people believed in us. Some of the players were not sure football is what they will do for a long time. Things were not rosy, we only depended on sheer talents of the players.
Thank you very much, 'Wonder B' for your time…
It's my pleasure.