When the Super Falcons file out for their opening game of the 2023 Women’s World Cup against Canada at the Melbourne Rectangular Stadium on Friday, a player of Nigerian descent Simi Awujo, who was named the Women’s 2022 Canada Soccer Young Player of The Year last December, will be part of the North Americans’ team for the encounter.

Awujo was born September 23, 2003, in Atlanta Georgia in the United States to Nigerian parents of Yoruba extraction Dr. Akinwole Awujo, a Medical Doctor and Dr. Mrs. Shola Okuwa-Awujo, a Pharmacist, who attended Command Secondary School, Maryland in Ikeja Lagos.

Her mum, Shola, is a thoroughbred Lagos indigene who has a Canadian citizenship, while her father, Akinwole, who was born in Idanre, Ondo State, where the spreading hills is a spectacular tourist site, has an American citizenship, hence their habitat of Atlanta Georgia.

Awujo was thus eligible to represent the United States, where she was born; Nigeria, where her parents were born; and Canada, where her mother Shola holds citizenship.

But in 2019, she represented the United States U-17 side at a UEFA Women’s Development Tournament in the Czech Republic, before Canada selected her for the rosters for the 2022 CONCACAF Women’s U-20 Championship, where she won a bronze medal, and the 2022 U-20 Women’s World Cup in Costa Rica, where she played every minute as the Canadians crashed out from the group stage.

Awujo then earned her first-ever call up to Canada Soccer’s Women’s National Team last September at just 18, after she was selected by head coach Bev Priestman ahead of a pair of international friendlies against Australia in Brisbane and Sydney.

She made her debut September 3, 2022, coming on as a substitute against the Australians.

Afterwards she’s gone on to appear six times for the Canadian senior women’s team before the World Cup and would relish a seventh cap playing against her parents’ country on Friday.

However, this is not the first time the 19-year-old would be playing against a Nigerian side.

With Canada, she ended up on the losing side against the Falconets, Nigeria’s U-20 women’s team, who triumphed 3-1 at last year’s U-20 Women’s World Cup in Costa Rica.

The win helped the Nigerians top Group C in dominant fashion with maximum nine points and ensured Canada returned home without a point.

Interestingly, Canada took the lead in less than two minutes through Kala Novak, following goalkeeper Omini Oyono’s poor management of a backpass from Jumoke Alani.

Esther Onyenezide scored from the penalty spot in the 24th minute to pull the Falconets level.

Onyenezide then shot Nigeria ahead, again from the spot, in the 32nd minute, this time after Awujo’s dangerous play against Mercy Idoko — as the latter went for a header from Rofiat Imuran’s inswinger — was penalised.

The young Nigerian girls wrapped up the tie in the second half when Imuran, again with a visionary cross, set up substitute Chioma Olise for Nigeria’s third goal.

Findings by our reporter shows Awujo’s mum passionately supports her daughter in her chosen career.

In fact, she and her family were in Costa Rica to support her.

Before the defeat in Costa Rica, she wrote on Facebook, “My other people are predicting 2-0 in favor of Nigeria… #teamsimisola has to win this for CANADA.”

After the defeat, Shola wrote again on her Facebook page, “We lost the match, but gained so much more! I am grateful for my Canadian and American families who came to support Simi and her team. I am especially grateful to God for giving Simi this chance and for Canada finding her and giving her a chance. This is her best fit and great things are coming #teamsisola.”

This time, the midfielder will be aiming for her senior World Cup debut, and a winning one at that, against her Nigerian sisters to avenge and exorcise the defeat at U-20 level.

Of course, Shola, as always, will be rooting for her daughter and Canada against the Falcons on Friday, but can the former African champions make it second time unlucky for Awujo, her mum and Canada?

The Falcons will provide the answer after 90 minutes in Melbourne on Friday.

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