South Eastern University of USA striker, Uchenna Kanu underscored her determination and ability to get a place in Nigeria’s squad to this year’s Women’s World Cup in France, as she again scored for the Super Falcons in their last group match, a 2-0 win against Mali, at the West African Football Union (WAFU) Women’s Cup of Nations.
Born 20 June 1997, Kanu is blazing a trail in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, as the next hot-bet Nigerian female striker to flaunt, as the former Pensacola FC youngster, who also played at the 2014 editions of both the FIFA U-17 U-20 Women’s World Cups, now has nine goals at the WAFU Cup.
Kanu, who made her senior debut on 8 April 2019 in a 1-2 friendly loss to Canada, struck Nigeria’s second goal on Tuesday, to help the Falcons pick a semi-final spot against Group A runners-up, Ghana.
In Tuesday’s last group match, Mali were reduced to 10 players in the 45th minute, after a foul Nigeria’s returnee captain, Evelyn Nwabouku but the Falcons toiled till the 67th minute before they got the game’s first goal through Rafiat Sule.
Thomas Dennerby’s side then pushed for more goals, and Kanu hit home her ninth of the tourney two minutes into extra-time to seal the victory.
It marked a continuum of an upward surge for the 21-year-old attacker, who left Nigeria in 2016 and has been impressive with the women’s soccer team of South Eastern University in the United States.
Amidst rave reviews now trailing her exploits in Abidjan, where she struck nine goals in three matches, Kanu reflected on the three years she has spent in God’s Own Country and charts a course for the future.
She joined The Fire mid-season in 2016, after being part of Nigeria’s team to the 2014 FIFA U20 Women’s World Cup, but has incredibly gone on to score 115 goals in just three seasons, with 33 assists to boot.
The former Delta Queens of Asaba forward also earlier set a single-season goals scoring record with 57 strikes in 2018 and was named United Soccer Coaches NAIA Player of The Year.
Her goals also helped the university to back-to-back conquests of the conference and NAIA National Championship Tournament, all of which Kanu says impressed upon her the belief that God took her to the school.
She, however, admits it was not a bed of roses in Uncle Sam’s Country, as she faced early challenges, but Kanu says she is happy that God has made it possible for her to adapt to life in Lakeland.
Kanu recounted: “When I first came, I was more reserved and tried to figure out who would be my friend and accept me for who I am.
“I kept everything to myself and observed everybody try to understand the culture. It took some time to do that
“The food is totally different here. I had a really hard time eating the food in America when I first came here.
“I was like, this is weird. Sandwiches are not a thing in Africa, but here they are definitely a thing. Everything is on a sandwich.
“I am a lot more comfortable trying different foods like mac and cheese and sandwiches now. I don’t eat them a lot, but will try them.
“I also realized that I really like chicken wings. For the first time in three years, I found a sandwich that I actually like.
“(All the same, I am happy) being able to work hard during practice and everything I could do to be an example to everyone on and off the field.
“Just having a good attitude helped me at first and opened up a lot of friendships on the team.
“At Southeastern, I have learned that being a Christian is not all about the outward appearance.
“It’s all about your heart and your relationship with God. Following Christ is not about how many times you go to church.
“(It’s not about the) occasions, or worship services, but how often in your quiet times do you seek the face of God.
“I know I am at South Eastern because God wanted me here. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t His purpose for me.
“It means a lot to me to be surrounded by people who help me grow in my faith and accept me for who I am.”