As the Super Falcons file out against hosts France in their final group game of the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup, one player that shoulders the hopes of Nigeria in the match billed for Stade de la Route in Lorient is striker Asisat Oshoala. The three-time CAF women player of the year was the architect of Thomas Dennerby’s lasses surprise 2-0 win over Korea in midweek, a result which has now brighten Nigeria’s chances of making it to the knockout stage of the 24-nation event -the biggest sporting women event in the world.
Oshoala, 24, headed into the tournament as perhaps Africa’s most popular player having featured in the final of the UEFA Women Champions League where she scored Barcelona’s solitary goal in a 4-1 loss to Lyon just last month. Although, she failed to reproduce the form that saw her found her way to Liverpool and a hosts of other top clubs before moving to China from where she joined the Catalonian side following a colourless display at the Women AFCON Championships in Ghana late last year, the Ikorodu, Lagos-born Oshoala reckoned that a solid performance at the biggest stage might just be enough to see her reclaim her CAF title which she lost to South Africa’s Thembi Kgatlana. With no major event again this year, one of the indices that would be used for who would be the queen of African football is this year ’s Mundial and so far Oshoala is ahead of the pack which was highlighted by her scooping the player of the match award against Korea.
She is the only African to get the honour so far and it’s high probable she would be the only one. Incidentally, Kgatlana, who plays in China marked her World Cup debut with a goal in the 3-1 defeat to Spain which seems to see her in the lead against her Nigerian rival but Oshoala responded in a blistering fashion scoring a great individual goal to seal Nigeria’s win over the Koreans. ”I’m not under any pressure, I just do my job for the interest of the team and is not all about me.
“It’s about the team, so why would I put myself under pressure, no pressure; just in the game to do my thing and have fun she said, looking ahead to the tie with the Les Bleus who are in search of their first title. While there is no denying the fact that the Falcons face an uphill task owing to the high ratings of their opponents, who were merciless in their 8-0 grinding of the nine-time African champions, however, a spirited display by Nigeria could render all permutations irrelevant and it is hard to look beyond Oshoala, if the Africans are to stay unscathed in Lorient against Corrine Diacre’s side Monday night.
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