Oparanozie Missing, Chikwelu Returns As Waldrum Names 23 Falcons For Turkey Tournament
Once more former Super Falcons captain, Desire Oparanozie has been left out of the squad for the 10-day invitaional tournament in Turkey while versatile midfielder, Rita Chikwelu makes a return, Bestchoicesports.com.ng can report
Falcons Coach, Waldrum released the 23-woman squad Thursday with the majority of the players coming from Europe.
Oparanozie and Chikwelu were not part of the Falcons that failed to qualify Nigeria for the 2020 Olympic in 2019 qualifying race.
Reigning African champions Nigeria will land in Antalya on Monday to participate in the fifth edition of the Turkish Women’s Cup taking place 15th – 24th February.
It is the first run-out for the Super Falcons, who reached the Round of 16 at the 8th FIFA Women’s World Cup finals in France in the summer of 2019, since being shockingly edged out of the race for the Tokyo Olympics by Cote d’Ivoire penultimate autumn.
It is also the first call of new Head Coach, American Randy Waldrum, with the squad he is expected to mould into credible competitors for honours at global level.
Ukraine, Serbia, India, Bulgaria, Uzbekistan and Equatorial Guinea are among teams confirmed so far for the 10-day tourney, though Tokyo Olympics-bound Zambia have pulled out for undisclosed reasons.
Nine-time African champions Nigeria and Equatorial Guinea’s Nzalang Nacional have been lumped into the same pool alongside Uzbekistan, with the Guineans handed an opportunity to address a 6-0 spanking by the Nigerians in the group phase of the 2018 Women Africa Cup of Nations finals in Ghana.
Also known as the Alanya Gold City Cup, the tournament ranks as one of the more notable events on the women’s football calendar worldwide.
The Falcons will aim to become the first African side to triumph at the tournament, following the third pplace finish by Ghana’s Black Queens last year. Chile won the trophy with Hungary as runner-up.
Poland (2017) and France (2018 and 2019) are the other previous winners of the Alanya Gold City Cup.
Nigeria’s Head Coach Waldrum has invited 23 players, mostly from the group that reached the Round of 16 at the World Cup in France, including goalkeepers Tochukwu Oluehi and Chiamaka Nnadozie, defenders Onome Ebi and Chidinma Okeke, midfielders Rita Chikwelu, Ngozi Okobi-Okeoghene and Halimatu Ayinde, and forwards Gift Monday, Rasheedat Ajibade and Asisat Oshoala.
Super Falcons last played a match in October 2019 after they were held 1-1 in Agege Stadium, Lagos by Ivorian ladies. The Falcons crashed out of the Olympic race.
23 FALCONS FOR ALANYA GOLD CITY CUP
Goalkeepers: Tochukwu Oluehi (C.D. Pozoalbense, Spain); Chiamaka Nnadozie (Paris FC, France); Christy Ohiaeriaku (Edo Queens)
Defenders: Onome Ebi; Glory Ogbonna (Edo Queens); Osinachi Ohale (Madrid CFF, Spain); Mariam Ibrahim (Nasarawa Amazons); Chidinma Okeke (Madrid CFF, Spain); Habeebat Akinwande (FC Robo)
Midfielders: Rita Chikwelu (Madrid CFF, Spain); Esther Sunday (ALG SPOR, Turkey); Ngozi Okobi-Okeoghene (Eskilstuna, Sweden); Antoinette Payne (Sevilla FC, Spain); Halimatu Ayinde (Eskilstuna, Sweden); Christy Ucheibe (SL Benfica, Portugal); Patricia George (Sands FC, Germany)
Forwards: Asisat Oshoala (FC Barcelona, Spain); Uchenna Kanu (Linkopings, Sweden); Rasheedat Ajibade (Atletico Madrid, Spain); Francisca Ordega; Chinwendu Ihezuo; Gift Monday (FC Robo); Charity Adule (SD Eibar, Spain)