By Izuchukwu Okosi
So the Super Falcons are eliminated from the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup after a 1-0 reverse against USA in their last group game.
The Falcons had plenty of optimism going into this game but it turned out to be the case of 'if wishes were horses'.
These are the five things learned from the Falcons' poor campaign in Canada.
1. Poor Preparation
The leadership of the Nigeria Football Federation have tons of blame in the group stage elimination of the Super Falcons. While other 'serious' countries were busy playing 'Grade A' friendlies around the world, Edwin Okon and his girls were playing non-league sides in Abuja and male youth clubs.
The lack of quality friendlies set the tone for what turned out to be a disappointing outing for the African champions.
Now the NFF know the kind of friendlies and camping arrangements the Falcons need.
2. Lack of Motivation, Incentives for the Girls
The Super Falcons despite their exit from the tournament have fared better than their male counterparts at the World Cup. At least they have reached the quarter-finals stage which the Super Eagles haven't quite managed to achieve.
They have also won more continental titles in their version of the AFCON; the African Women Championship, a record seven titles from nine editions. The Eagles have done that in Africa three times in history.
However the Eagles get better deals when it comes to bonuses, allowances and so on. That is a major motivating factor in how footballers, and indeed every worker's commitment and loyalty can be guaranteed. The Falcons have been short-changed in this direction.
3. High Expectations, Over Confidence
There was so much expectation from Nigerian fans that this team would go one better than their group stage participation at the World Cup (bar the 1999 quarter-finals feat in USA).
The current team is undoubtedly talented so Nigerians feel they will get a good result against an ageing but experienced USA team and possibly defeat Sweden and Australia.
The Falcons bounced back from two goals down to draw 3-3 against the Swedes in a thrilling game but it seemed the commendation got the coaches and players carried away in their next game against Australia.
The Nigerian team were not tactically disciplined as the Aussies, who were not so skilful like their opponents, did the basic things very well.
4. Time to Call it Quits for Nkwocha, Dede
The current Super Falcons team are brimming with young talented players but there are ageing players who need to take heir bows in the team after this World Cup.
The duo of Precious Dede (keeper) and former three-time African women Footballer of the Year winner, Perpetua Nkwocha, have paid their dues in the game and are no longer spring chickens. Dede had a poor game against Sweden but made about five key saves in the defeat USA.
Nonetheless, both stars are no longer as fast or agile as they were a decade ago and need to pass the baton to new stars.
5. God Also Answers Other Teams' Prayers
The Super Falcons have formed the habit of always engaging in prayer sessions before and during games.
Prayer in itself is not bad, in fact God comes first before other things in life but the penchant to pray while not doing one's work diligently amounts to nothing. Edwin Okon always bows and acknowledges God before games but football experts will still pinpoint areas his team lag behind.
The moment the camera focused on him just before kick off against USA, the Rivers Angels coach hit his knees on the ground and bowed his head in prayer but that was not the case with his opposite number. Prayer is the key but only when the basics have been done.
Okon has some point in blaming the referee for incessantly booking his players which obviously demoralised them against the USA, but he didn't pray at the end of the game to thank God as he usually does. After all, the Holy Book admonishes "praising God in all situations".