The Super Falcons’ preparations for the 2023 Women’s World Cup were already hampered by the Nigeria Football Federation’s last-minute postponement of camping in Abuja, which was scheduled to begin on June 20.
Following the decision, the squad, which is in Group B with co-hosts Australia, Ireland, and Canada, now has only 10 days to prepare for their first game against Canada on July 21 in Melbourne, since they will fly to Australia on July 2 to begin preparations.
Randy Waldrum, the team’s American coach, unveiled his 23-woman roster on Friday, with captain Onome Ebi, Asisat Oshoala, Rasheedat Ajibade, Francisca Ordega, Michelle Alozie, Chiamaka Nnadozie, Halmatu Ayinde, and others on the list for the trip to Oceania.
Exclusions were also made. Forward Vera Ihezuo, midfielder Regina Otu, and forward Charity Adule were all left out. Rita Chikwelu, a veteran midfielder, is also out after reportedly quitting from international football.
The glaring absence was Ngozi Okobi-Okeoghene, the dynamic midfielder residing in Spain who has been the team’s creative spark in the center in recent years.
At last year’s WAFCON quarter-finals, Okobi-Okeoghene waltzed through a sea of Cameroonian legs before setting up striker Rasheedat Ajibade for the winner, ensuring the former African champions booked their place in Australia and New Zealand.
“Okobi-Okeoghene’s exclusion is shocking because she contributes so much from the midfield,” said Silverbird TV sports presenter Blessing Nwosu.
Rather of returning to Nigeria for the off-season, Okobi-Okeoghene has joined her former club Eskilstuna United in Sweden to train for the World Cup and also follow Waldrum’s plan.
She insists she is in good form, despite accusations that she was dropped due to an injury.
“They said I was injured; how am I injured?” “I’ve been training and following the (World Cup) schedule,” Okobi-Okeoghene explained.
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