The Spain-based duo of Asisat Oshoala from Barcelona Femeni and Antoinette Oyedupe Payne (Toni) from Sevilla were both left out of the Nigeria’s female national team, Super Falcons’ first match at their pre-FIFA Women’s World Cup training base in the Land of The Armada.
While Oshoala is said to be nursing an injury, Payne is yet to be formally cleared to switch allegiance to Nigeria and officials at her club refused to release her to the Faclons, hence their absences in Friday’s 6-1 win against UMF Selfoss FC of Iceland and the second friendly on Monday against Canada’s female national team.
Further details of both developments revealed that Oshoala could not train with the Faclons since their arrival in Spain, as she is recovering from a hamstring injury she suffered against Atletico Madrid over the previous weekend, while Payne has not been released by Sevilla.
Falcons’ coach, Thomas Dennerby opted to have on from the start former youth international goalkeeper, Chiamaka Nnadozie, ahead of Tochukwu Oluehi and Alaba Jonathan.
The Swedish gaffer, though, maintained his back-four choices of Josephine Chukwunonye, Ngozi Ebere, Grace Uchendu and Faith Ikidi, while Ngozi Okobi and Ogonna Chukwudi lined out alongside skipper Rita Chikwelu in midfield, with Desire Oparanozie and Uchenna Kanu in attack.
Dennerby could have paid the price for leaving out Osohoala and Payne, but Kanu justified her inclusion in the squad by netting for the nine-time African champions, after Selfoss took a 31st minute lead through Reimus Magda at Pinatar Arena in Murcia, Spain.
Three minutes later, Nnadozie denies Selfoss the chance of making it two, after which Chukwunonye found space for an audacious shot but her effort went inches wide, but Kanu scored the equalizer against the Icelandic side in the 42nd minute.
At half time, Ini Umotong, Ana Imo, Courtney Dike, Rasheedat Ajibade and Halimatr Ayinde all went on, and their entries made a world of difference,. as the Falcons went goals gaga in the next 45 minutes.
Dike started the rout, few minutes after Faith Micheal out for Osinachi Ohale, as the former USA youth international put the Falocns 2-1 up, off Ngozi Ebere’s assist, but England-born Umotong took over from there.
In the 62nd minute, Umotong extended the Falcons’ lead through an assist by Ogonna Chukwudi. Umotong got her brace in the 69th minute, after smartly beating Selfoss’s defence and dribbled past the keeper to slot home the Falcons’ fourth goal.
Dike the struck in the 72nd and 76th minutes to enact a splendid hat-trick, as she first got her own brace courtesy Ajibade’s assist, then hit the treble after superbly finishing off Ngozi Okobi’s cross.
It would eventually end 6-1 in Nigeria’s favour, but only because in-form shot-stopper, Nnadozie pulled off a great save to deny their opponents a comeback 89th minute chance, giving Dennerby’s team a high level of enthusiasm heading into Monday’s match against Canada.
All the scorers at Pinatar Arena: Falcons [Uchenna Kanu 42′; Courtney Dike 57′, 72′, 76′; Ini Umotong 62′, 69′] 6-1 UMF Selfoss [Reimus Magda 31′]