Former Super Falcons coach Edwin Okon has called on handlers of the team to give more home-based players a chance, adding that the domestic league is very tough and capable of improving Nigeria’s Senior Women’s National Team.
The current coach of the 9-time African Champions, Thomas Dennerby, on Friday, named seven home-based professionals comprising of three goalkeepers and four outfield players in his final list of 23 players for the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup which begins in France on 7th June.
But, Okon, who in 2015 took 14 home-based players (11 of them outfield) to the World Cup in Canada, advised the Falcons’ coaches to give players in the Nigeria Women Premier League more priority during selection.
“There is no trust in our home-based (players) from the handlers,” the Rivers Angels coach told busybuddiesng.com in an exclusive chat.
“For me, I am a grassroots coach. I traveled to Canada (2015 World Cup) with 23 players, five (foreign-based) professionals and 18 home-based. It was through that tournament that the likes of (Asisat) Oshoala, Ngozi Ebere, (Ngozi) Okobi and most of those players got their greener pastures.
“It’s a wrong thing for us not to recognize the league today. And the league is very strong.
“How do we make a team of 20 or 25 players without about 6 or 7 or 10 home-based players? We are not prepared for it. If the handlers really have the belief in the home-based, I think there’s a lot of prospect for us,” the 48-year-old tactician said.
Despite taking largely home-based players to the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Canada, Edwin Okon’s team failed to go beyond the group stage, losing to both eventual champions, USA and Australia after a draw with Sweden.
The Falcons have been drawn with Norway, South Korea and hosts, France in this year’s tournament. They’ll open their campaign against Norway on 8th June before facing South Korea and France in that order.
Nigeria are yet to progress beyond the group stage of the World Cup since 1999, when Ismaila Mabo led the Falcons to a quarter-final finish.
Super Falcons Squad to the FIFA Women’s World France 2019
GOALKEEPERS: Tochukwu Oluehi (Rivers Angels); Alaba Jonathan (Bayelsa Queens); Chiamaka Nnadozie (Rivers Angels)
DEFENDERS: Osinachi Ohale (Vaxjo DFF, Sweden); Ngozi Ebere (Arna Bjornar, Norway); Onome Ebi (Henan Huisanhang, China); Faith Michael (Pitea IF, Sweden); Chidinma Okeke (FC Robo)
MIDFIELDERS: Rita Chikwelu (Krstianstand DFF, Sweden); Ngozi Okobi-Okeoghene (Eskiltuna United, Sweden); Evelyn Nwabuoku (Rivers Angels); Ogonna Chukwudi (Djurgardens IF, Sweden); Halimatu Ayinde (Eskiltuna United, Sweden); Amarachi Okoronkwo (Nasarawa Amazons)
FORWARDS: Desire Oparanozie (En Avant Guingamp, France); Anam Imo (Malmo FC Rosengard, Sweden); Asisat Oshoala (FC Barcelona, Spain); Chinaza Uchendu (SC Braga, Portugal); Uchenna Kanu (Southeastern University, USA); Rasheedat Ajibade (Alvadsnes IL, Norway); Francisca Ordega (Shanghai W. FC); Alice Ogebe (Rivers Angels); Chinwendu Ihezuo (Henana Huisanhang, China)