By Samuel Ahmadu
Nigeria women’s coach Randy Waldrum has made surprising changes to his initial Super Falcons’ preliminary squad for the upcoming TotalEnergies Women’s Africa Cup of Nations in Morocco, SavidNews can authoritatively report.
The 32-player group was initially announced two weeks ago by the Nigeria Football Federation for the upcoming training camp in Morocco, where the team will finalise it’s preparations for the WAFCON finals, holding from July 2-23.
While several usual suspects were listed, including Asisat Oshoala and Desire Oparanozie, Waldrum shocking left out in-form duo of striker Gift Monday and midfielder Ngozi Okobi-Okeoghene from the provisional squad.
Meanwhile, SavidNews understand the American has finally bowed to pressure by extending late invitation to Bayelsa Queens striker Monday following heavy criticisms that trailed her exclusion which backed by her goalscoring feat at the NWFL Super Six in Benin City.
Monday bagged a brace in 2-1 win over Nasarawa Amazons to help Bayelsa Queens to a fifth title triumph, claiming the Woman of the Match award, the Most Valuable Player of the Tournament and topscorer gong with nine goals in five outings, ending the season with 12 goals from 10 games.
Beside Monday, Waldrum also extended a late invitation to defender Chidinma Okeke, who parted ways with Spanish top-flight side Madrid CFF couple of months ago.
The full back, who starred at France 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup, has been long out due to injury and last played a competitive match on June 27, 2021, but remains to be seen if she’s in good shape.
The late inclusions of Monday and Okeke saw, the American tactician, dropping Edo Queens defender Opeyemi Sunday and Pitea of Sweden striker Anam Imo from the WAFCON roaster.
The development swells the number of local players on the foreign based dominated preliminary list to five, including Okeke, who is back in Nigeria.
The African champions were pitted in Group C alongside four-time finalists South Africa, plus first timers in Botswana and Burundi and they will hold a two-week intensive training camp in Morocco from June 18.
The West Africans will kick-off their 10th African title bid against Banyana Banyana in Rabat on 4th July before taking on the Mares on 7th July and then Burundians three days later in Morocco.
REVISED NIGERIA PROVISIONAL SQUAD
Goalkeepers: Chiamaka Nnadozie (Paris FC, France); Tochukwu Oluehi (Maccabi Kishronot Hadera, Israel); Rita Akarekor (Nasarawa Amazons); Yewande Balogun (Coppermine United, USA)
Defenders: Chidinma Okeke (Unattached); Glory Ogbonna (Santa Teresa FC, Spain); Onome Ebi (En Avant Guingamp, France); Osinachi Ohale (Deportivo Alaves, Spain); Ugochi Emenayo (Konak Belediyespor Izmir, Turkey); Ashleigh Plumptre (Leicester City, England); Nicole Payne (West Virginia University, USA); Michelle Alozie (Houston Dash, USA); Akudo Ogbonna (Edo Queens)
Midfielders: Peace Efih (Kiryat Gat, Israel); Amanda Uju Mbadi (Atasehir Belediyespor, Turkey); Halimatu Ayinde (Eskilstuna United, Sweden); Charity Adule (Deportivo La Coruna, Spain); Toni Oyedupe Payne (Sevilla FC, Spain); Regina Otu (Minsk FC, Belarus); Christy Ucheibe (SL Benfica, Portugal); Rasheedat Ajibade (Atletico Madrid, Spain); Rita Chikwelu (Madrid CFF, Spain); Suliat Abideen (Edo Queens)
Forwards: Gift Monday (Bayelsa Queens); Francisca Ordega (CSKA Moscow, Russia); Desire Oparanozie (Wuhan Chegu Jianghan, China); Vivian Ikechukwu (WFC Gintra, Lithuania); Chinonyerem Macleans (GSK Gornik Leczna, Poland); Chinwendu Ihezuo (Meizhou Hakka Club, China); Ifeoma Onumonu (NY/NJ Gotham FC, USA); Uchenna Kanu (Tigres Femenil, Mexico); Asisat Oshoala (FC Barcelona, Spain)