By Victor Kanayo
There appears to be uncertainty in the camp of Nigeria’s Super Falcons after five key players withdrew from the Women Africa Cup of Nations (WAFCON) final qualifying fixture against Cape Verde.
The withdrawal notices from the players was revealed by the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) in a statement on Sunday.
Part of the statement reads, “Coach Justin Madugu has been compelled to pick replacements for forward Asisat Oshoala and midfielder Jennifer Echegini after the duo voluntarily opted out of the Super Falcons’ squad..”
NFF while lamenting through its assistant technical director, Abdulrafiu Yusuf, said the two players had been sent their flight tickets to travel to Nigeria a whole week before they announced on Saturday that they would be unable to join the squad.
“We were surprised that they had the flight tickets for so long and did not say anything, only for them to send different messages on Saturday that they would be unable to make the trip. However, Coach Madugu has moved swiftly to call up replacements for them,” he said.
Three other players who are injured are also out of the qualifier.
“Midfield lynchpin Halimatu Ayinde, who missed the 2024 Olympics qualifying fixture against Ethiopia last month, is still out injured, and forward Ifeoma Onumonu also requested to be left out, saying she is nursing an injury. Defender Michelle Alozie told the team administrator that she will be undergoing a surgery.
“Madugu has called up Portugal-based Peace Efih to once again fill the space vacated by Ayinde, while Rivers Angels’ midfielder Motunrayo Ezekiel will take the place of Christy Ucheibe, who is unable to travel to Nigeria from her base in Portugal.
“Nigeria U20 Girls’ ace forward Chioma Olise will take the place of US-based Echegini while Chiamaka Chukwu of Rivers Angels has been called up to take Oshoala’s place,” the statement said.
The Super Falcons will host the first leg of the fixture against their counterparts from Cape Verde at the MKO Abiola National Stadium, Abuja on Thursday November 30, with the second leg scheduled for the Santiago-Estadio Nacional Blue Shark in Praia on Tuesday December, 5, 2023.