Coach Edwin Okon named a preliminary 26-woman squad for the Nigeria senior women team ahead of the 2015 Fifa Women’s World Cup in Canada which begins on June 6.
A notable add is legendary striker Perpetua Nkwocha. The 39-year-old four-time African Women Footballer of the Year was dropped after participting in three straight World Cup outings in 2003, 2007 and 2011.
Her hopes of making a fourth World Cup appearance was raised as the coached opted for younger players in keeping with his philosophy of building team for the future.
The African champions’ squad, drawn after nearly four months of camping at the FIFA Goal Project in Abuja since Feburary 22, is composed of four goalkeepers, eight defenders, seven midfielders and six strikers.
The Super Falcons’ team, captained by Evelyn Nwabuoku, is largely filled with members of the 2014 African Women Championship winning team, including the reigning African Women Player of the Year Asisat Oshoala.
Surprise selected talents who made the squad are AWC winner Christy Ohiariaku, former Falconets star Courtney Dike who plays for the Oklahoma State University team and Portsmouth Ladies’ Iniabasi Umotong, and former Flamingoes striker Chinwendu Ihezuo.
Nigeria have been drawn in the tournament’s toughest group alongside two-time winners USA, Sweden and Australia in Group D for the Women’s World Cup that will take place between 6 June and 5 July.
The team departed for Canada on Tuesday night from the Abuja airport via Paris to connect to Toronto.
The duo of Nwabuoku of Biik Kazygut and Francesca Ordega of Washington Spirits will arrive Canada from their respective bases in Kazakhstan and the United States of America.
The African champions will play a friendly match against the senior women’s national team of Canada on 25 May – the same day Okon is expected to release his final 23 squad for the World Cup.
The Super Falcons will begin their campaign in the preliminary stages against Sweden at the 7th FIFA Women’s World Cup in Winnipeg on 8th June before taking on Australia at the same venue and then USA in Vancouver.
Goalkeepers: 1-Precious Dede, 2- Ibubeleye Whyte, 3 – Christy Ohaeriaku, 4- Sandra Chii Chii
Defenders: 5- Onome Ebi, 6- Osinachi Ohale, 7- Josephine Chukwunonye, 8- Ngozi Ebere, 9- Blessing Edoho, 10- Sarah Nnodim, 11- Mariam Ibrahim, 12- Ugo Njoku,
Midfielders: 13- Evelyn Nwabuoku, 14-Perpetua Nkwocha, 15- Onyinyechi Ohadugha, 16- Halimat Ayinde, 17- Cecilia Nku, 18- Ngozi Okobi, 19- Esther Sunday, 20- Loveth Ayila,
Strikers: 21- Chiwendu Ihezuo, 22- Desire Oparanozie, 23- Asisat Oshoala, 24- Francisca Ordega, 25- Iniabasi Umotong, 26- Courtney Dike