Super Falcons coach Randy Waldrum recently released his 23-woman squad for the Women’s World Cup scheduled to hold in Australia and New Zealand from July 20 to August 20, with no place for some notable players, PUNCH Sports Extra reports.
Here are five of the top players that will be watching from afar while the chosen ones sweat it out for the World Cup trophy…
The midfielder is arguably the biggest name left out of the squad by the American gaffer, and expectedly, her exclusion has raised dust, with aggrieved fans questioning Waldrum’s decision.
Okobi-Okeoghene was one of the top performers for the Super Falcons at the 2022 Women’s Africa Cup of Nations last year in Morocco.
In fact, her solo effort in the quarter-finals, when she teed up striker Rasheedat Ajibade for the winner against Cameroon, after waltzing past the Lionesses defenders, handed the Falcons the ticket to the World Cup.
While reacting to her exclusion on Twitter, Okobi-Okeoghene, who attended the last two World Cups, stated, “Give thanks in all. Thank you Jesus.”
The midfielder has 27 caps for Nigeria with four goals to her name.
The 29-year-old was in fine form last season, after joining Spanish side Levante Las Planas from Swedish outfit Eskilstuna in February.
During her five-year stint with Eskilstuna, Okobi-Okeoghene made 68 appearances, scoring six goals.
Another player who was left heartbroken by her omission from the women’s football showpiece is Adule.
The 29-year-old had a descent 2022/23 season with Spanish side Alhama.
Despite suffering relegation, the Muricians were the surprise team in the Copa de la Reina, making it as far as the semi-final where they were knocked out by Atlético de Madrid Femenino, with Adule playing a prominent role.
The versatile midfielder, who played at the U-20 Women’s World Cup, was one of the club’s outstanding players and was hoping that her performance in the just-concluded season would be enough to earn her a spot in the team, but Waldrum had other ideas.
Ihezuo was part of Nigeria’s squad at the 2019 Women’s World Cup in France but won’t be in Australia and New Zealand for this year’s edition of the tournament after being left out by Waldrum.
The striker was with the Falcons during the Revelation Cup in Mexico in February and put up a decent performance.
Since arriving in Monterrey from Chinese side, Meizhou Hakka, February, the Nigeria international has been fantastic and even earned praises from her boss, Eva Espejo.
“In the case of Vera (Ihezuo), I love that she opened with a goal, she gave a very important change from the two games before this one, we have been adjusting her work above all with respect to that of the others,” the coach said after the 25-year-old scored against Las Centellas del Necaxa in the LigaBBVAFemenil of Mexico in March.
Otu was part of the team’s exhibition in Turkey and helped the women’s national team earn three consecutive wins after snapping out of their seven-match winless run to continue their preparations for the Women’s World Cup.
The 26-year-old midfielder picked up where she left off with the Falcons and till the end of the season continued with her fine form with AS Saint-Etienne in France.
Otu played a pivotal role in Saint-Etienne’s conquest of the French D2 Feminine, propelling them to promotion to the French women’s top division.
Despite the performance, she was overlooked and would have to watch the tournament from the comfort of her home.
After making history as the first siblings to feature for Nigeria at the 2022 Africa Women’s Cup of Nations in Morocco, Nicole and Toni Payne were hoping for a repeat at the World Cup next month.
Their hope has, however, dashed after Nicole was dropped from the squad with only her sister making it to the Mundial.
US-born Nicole, who started her first game at WAFCON 2022 against Burundi at left-back, said it was a dream come true to make history with the team.
“I am really excited. To represent Nigeria with my sister is a dream come true. We feel really proud and blessed to be in this position.”
Unfortunately, the dream of taking the record to the global stage won’t be happening, at least not this year.