FC Robo Queens of Lagos midfielder, Chidinma Okeke has sent words of gratitude to her senior colleague from the same club, Asisat Oshoala for putting her through in the Nigerian female national team, Super Falcons, where she is now playing as a right-back at the Women’s World Cup.
Okeke has turned out to be a huge revelation for Nigeria at France 2019, with starting spots guaranteed, after stepping in for injured Faith Ikidi-Michael, but she says the secret of her success is down to Oshoala, who is a product of FC Robo and now plays for Barcelona Femeni of Spain.
Born 11 August 2000, Okeke, whose middle name in Nkiruka, was part of the Nigerian team that won the 2019 WAFU Women’s Cup in Ivory Coast, just three years after she played for the under-17 team, Flamingos, at the 2016 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup.
She was also in Coach Christopher Danjuma’s squad to the 2018 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup, a year after she finished runner-up, behind fellow-FC Robo product, Rasheedat Ajibade, in the Nigerian Women’s Freestyle Football Challenge competition.
During the 2019 WAFU Women’s Cup, Okeke was on the score sheet when the Falcons defeated Niger Republic to qualify for the semi-finals, and she was soon after named in the squad for France 2019, where she got her debut off the bench in place of injured Faith Michael.
The 19-year-old Okeke got the nod to step in for 32-year-old Michael after the veteran defender, who plays for Pitea IF of Sweden, went off on a stretcher during the Falcons’ opening 3-0 loss to Norway, when she was caught in a clearance by first choice goalkeeper, Tochukwu Oluehi.
With Michael ruled out of the second group game against South Korea. Falcons’ coach Thomas Dennerby put his trust in Okeke, a former junior international, who featured for Nigeria at the FIFA U20 Women’s World Cup also staged in France last year, and she has held her own very well.
She, however, stated during a television interview that she owes all gratitude for her stability to Oshoala as well as her coach at FC Robo, Emmanuel Osahon, who gave her the basics of technical stability.
Okeke disclosed: “I am happy with the chance I’ve got to prove myself. I had to start playing as a defender, although I am usually a midfielder.
“I thank my senior player, Asisat Oshoala, for putting me through what I have to do and how I will do it.
“She just said I should stay calm with the ball and think fast when I want to play it forward.
“I also remembered how my coach used to tell me not to be in a rush to do anything. It should do simple things first, before trying difficult ones.
“That’s how I started; staying calm, maintaining my position and doing what the coach tells me to do.
“I am happy with what I have been able to do for Nigeria and for the team, especially when I gave that pass to Oshoala and she scored.”