• Waldrum also snubs NWFL stars
Reactions on Friday trailed Super Falcons head coach Randy Waldrum’s final 23-woman list for the Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.
The American named Onome Ebi and returning Desire Oparanozie in his squad with experienced and creative midfielder Ngozi Okobi-Okeoghene the surprise exclusion.
Also listed in the team for the trip are Barcelona’s Asisat Oshoala and Atletico Madrid’s Rasheedat Ajibade.
There is also first-choice goalkeeper Chiamaka Nnadozie, as well as defenders Osinachi Ohale and Oluwatosin Demehin, midfielders Halimatu Ayinde and Christy Ucheibe, and forwards Esther Okoronkwo, but there was no space for any player from the Nigeria Women’s Football League as all the players selected feature for foreign sides.
Okobi-Okeoghene, 29, made her Falcons debut in 2010, attending the 2015 and 2019 World Cups. She’s been one of the most consistent midfielders of the side ever since, and made the switch to LaLiga Feminine side Levante from Sweden in January.
A cross-section of stunned football enthusiasts queried Okobi-Okeoghene’s exclusion from the World Cup squad.
“Is Okobi pregnant or injured? I need an explanation please,” Dr Ibrahim Didamson stated.
IBM Republic added, “I watched the replay of Nig vs Sweden 3-3 draw. Okobi was the woman of the match. I am disappointed with her exclusion.”
Hardeyemi Shegun tweeted that he preferred Okobi in the squad ahead of Ordega.
“For me, I will prefer Okobi to Ordega.”
We Feast wrote, “Ngozi and (Regina) Otu are the biggest casualties, Abiodun replaced Otu who was always sitting on the bench but Ngozi was a surprise to me, Ordega was rumoured to be left out, Ordega was competing with Monday for that last spot so technically Ngozi was sacrificed for both Ordega and Gift.”
Peter Udoh believes Waldrum took a gamble leaving Okobi out of the squad.
He said, “That’s a bad gamble. As it stands right now, I prefer Ngozi to be on the team. We have enough alternatives if not better for Ordega. She’s become quite slow and predictable, for me. But Okobi just upgraded to the Spanish league. Haba! We’ve been watching her and she’s doing well. So?”
Toyosi Afolayan added, “Notable names are missing here. The likes of Rita and Okobi.”
Also baffled by the exclusion of the Levante midfielder is Kayblitz_Da Bawz, who stated, “I could have easily called 22 out of the 23 players listed. The only surprise for me was the exclusion of Ngozi Okobi. But all in all its a good list. Wishing the Ladies all the best in the Southern Hemisphere.”
Ayomikun Elemikan rhetorically asked, “Is Okobi injured?”
Moolah79 also questioned the absence of the 29-year-old midfielder.
“The only creative midfielder Ngozi Okobi is left out? This would have been a splendid list but for the lack of a creative midfield hub which has been our problem in recent times. Now we’ll struggle to play all through our World Cup campaign which will be a very short one.”
Chiemeka Emee added that Okobi’s experience would be greatly missed.
‘Maybe Waldrum believes Echegini and Toni Payne can be the creative outlets in Okobi’s absence (to be fair, Echegini did quite well in that role against both Costa Rica and New Zealand) but nothing beats World Cup experience, which Okobi has to her advantage.”