African champions Nigeria say they have put behind them the loss to
Jamaica and are determined to earn victory against Portugal on Sunday,
in the second of their three-match programme in the Summer Series in
the United States of America.
Missing several key players who were held back by either delayed
issuance of entry visa or injuries, the Super Falcons lost 0-1 to the
Jamaicans on Thursday at the BBVA Stadium in Houston – the same venue
where they confront the Portuguese on Sunday evening.
Deneisha Blackwood, who plays her professional club game for Houston
Dash (the club that uses the BBVA ground), scored in the 54th minute
to condemn the Super Falcons to their first defeat in eight games. The
nine-time African champions had won all three matches at the Turkish
Women’s Cup Tournament in Antalya in February – the first account
under American coach Randy Waldrum.
After the clash with the Jamaicans, Bayelsa Queens’ midfielder Celine
Ottah (one of 10 home-based professionals in the Falcons’ squad),
joined up with the contingent at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in
Houston. Camp sources have confirmed to thenff.com that Belarus –based
experienced defender Onome Ebi and team captain Asisat Oshoala will
hit the team’s camp before the clash with Portugal on Sunday, having
flown out of their bases in Europe on Saturday.
In addition to four-time African Player of the Year Oshoala and
oak-at-the-rear Ebi, Coach Waldrum had to do without the young, agile
and stout-hearted goalkeeper Chiamaka Nnadozie (who is still stuck in
France) midfield orchestrators Ngozi Okobi-Okeoghene and Halimatu
Ayinde. Former youth international Nnadozie has been the team’s number
one since the last FIFA World Cup finals in France.
The game against the Portuguese is also being seen in the larger
context of a preparatory session for the Falcons’ last match in the
Summer Series – a clash with four-time world champions and four-time
Olympic champions USA at the Q2 Stadium in Austin, also in the State
Team USA has beaten the Super Falcons in every encounter at the FIFA
World Cup and the Olympics. But Wednesday’s tie will be the first
friendly match involving both teams. In fact, the Americans have only
ever played friendly matches against only one African team previously
– South Africa’s Banyana Banyana.
SUPER FALCONS IN HOUSTON: Tochukwu Oluehi, Inyene Etim, Glory Ogbonna,
Ibe Abidemi, Oluwatosin Demehin, Vivian Ikechukwu, Akudo Ogbonna,
Esther Okoronkwo, Gift Monday, Yewande Balogun, Joy Bokiri, Francisca
Ordega, Rasheedat Ajibade, Amanda Mbadi, Toni Oyedupe Payne, Chidinma
Okeke, Celine Ottah, Charity Adule, Rita Chikwelu, Michelle Alozi,
Onyinyechi Zogg, Nicole Payne, Ifeoma Onomonwu, Rossa Ariyo