Top Super Falcons’ star players like Halimat Ayinde, Osinachi Ohale and Christy Ucheibe will be conspicuously missing this afternoon as Nigeria battle hosts Ethiopia in the first leg second-round fixture of the Paris Olympic Games women’s football event qualifier in Addis Ababa.
The game slated for the Abebe Bekila Stadium in the Ethiopian capital city, is to kick off at 3.30pm Ethiopia time (1.30pm Nigeria time).
In the absence of the trio who shone at this year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, the team’s handlers have Asisat Oshoala, Chiamaka Nnadozie, Rasheedat Ajibade, Michelle Alozie, Uchenna Kanu, Oluwatosin Demehin and Toni Payne available for selection.
Esther Onyenezide, who impressed at last year’s FIFA U20 Women’s World Cup finals in Costa Rica as Nigeria reached the quarter-finals, has been drafted to replace Ayinde.
Other players that trained yesterday evening at the Abebe Bekila Stadium include; goalkeepers Tochukwu Oluehi and Monle Oyono, defenders Rofiat Imuran, , Nicole Payne, Akudo Ogbonna, Jumoke Alani and Comfort Folorunsho, Peace Efih, and forwards Gift Monday, Omorinsola Babajide and Opeyemi Ajakaye.
The delegation of home-based players and officials from Nigeria flew into Addis Ababa on Sunday while the foreign-based streamed into camp the next day ahead of the big match today.
According to the Director of Communication of the NFF, only US-based Ifeoma Onumonu was expected in Addis Ababa last night.
The return leg has been scheduled for the MKO Abiola National Stadium, Abuja on Tuesday, 31st October 2023, with the winner on aggregate to square up to the winner of the Cameroon/Uganda fixture for a place in the final round of the qualification series.
Next year’s Olympic Games will hold between 26th July and 11th August in Paris and a few other places in France.