Connect with us

International soccer

Randy Waldrum ‘extremely excited’ after Nigeria women’s soccer qualified for Olympics for first time since 2008

Photo courtesy Deb Abiodun (Twitter)

It will be another Summer of travel for Pitt women’s soccer Head Coach Randy Waldrum and a pair of Pitt student-athletes who are representing Nigeria’s Women’s National soccer team.

Less than a year since he guided Nigeria to a successful FIFA Women’s World Cup appearance in Australia, Waldrum returned to guide the Super Falcons to earn a berth in this year’s upcoming Olympic tournament this week, thanks to a 1-0 aggregate victory in two matches vs the reigning African Cup champions, South Africa.

“I am just extremely excited,” Waldrum said afterwards. “I know how much it means to the fans of Nigeria, to the NFF, to all the people of Nigeria not to have qualified for 16 years, so I am very thankful and I just appreciate the support.”

On Tuesday, the Super Falcons secured their spot to compete in their fifth Olympics Women’s Football Tournament, to be held in France, following a 0-0 draw in Pretoria, South Africa, in the second leg of qualifying two-match showdown vs South Africa.  The Super Falcons won the first leg, 1-0, on April 5.

For Waldrum, Tuesday’s result, and Friday’s win before that, means that he can breathe a sigh of relief after claiming some measure of payback over South Africa in what could arguably be the longest rivalry in women’s soccer on the African continent.

In previous two matches vs South Africa, Waldrum-led Nigeria squads lost both times.

The first meeting was at the Aisha Buhari Cup in 2021, as Banyana Banyana embarrassed The Super Falcons 4-2 in their own backyard. The second meeting was at the 2022 WAFCON in Morocco, where Banyana ran out 2-1 winners on their way to winning their first ever African title.

At the World Cup in Australia last Summer, Waldrum led an impressive tournament effort against world’s best teams, posting three clean sheets in their four games and were only eliminated on penalties against England.

Heartbreak in Brisbane: Randy Waldrum’s Nigeria Super Falcons fall to England in dramatic penalty kick shootout

“I think this is our seventh or eighth clean sheet in nine games,” Waldrum said in his post match remarks following the draw vs South Africa.

“Australia is the only team that scored twice on us. So, we’ve been very good defensively. I always felt strong about that. And with some proper work, we’ll even get better with things on the offensive side which I know everyone has been asking for.”

Most recently, Pitt women’s soccer announced the addition of Celine Ottah, who will be the second Nigerian international to join the Panthers program, for the 2024 Fall season. Ottah will be joined by midfielder Deborah Abiodun, who excelled as a midfielder in her first season in college in 2023.

Abiodun has played a key role in the central midfield for the Super Falcons, emerging as a leader with the group.

Nigeria will be one of 12 women’s soccer nations, including the United States, who will compete in the Olympic tournament, which is scheduled to take place between July 25-August 10.

The Super Falcons will in four-team group C, which will also include Brazil, Japan and World Cup champions, Spain.  They will kick off round-robin play on July 25, vs Brazil, then face Spain on July 28, and Japan on July 31.

John Krysinsky has covered soccer and other sports for many years for various publications and media outlets. He is also author of 'Miracle on the Mon' -- a book about the Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC, which chronicles the club, particularly the early years of Highmark Stadium with the narrative leading up to and centered around a remarkable match that helped provide a spark for the franchise. John has covered sports for Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, DK Pittsburgh Sports, Pittsburgh Sports Report, has served as color commentator on Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC broadcasts, and worked with OPTA Stats and broadcast teams for US Open Cup and International Champions Cup matches held in the US. Krysinsky also served as the Head Men’s Soccer Coach at his alma mater, Point Park University, where he led the Pioneers to the first-ever winning seasons and playoff berths (1996-98); head coach of North Catholic boys (2007-08), associate head coach of Shady Side Academy boys (2009-2014).

Glory on the Grass

PSN’s Featured Community Partner: Open Field International

Riverhounds MF Kenardo Forbes

Subscribe to PGH Soccer Now

Enter your email address to subscribe to PGH Soccer Now and receive notifications of new posts by email.

More in International soccer