2019 Women’s World Cup: Veteran Onome Ebi included in Nigeria squad




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Nigeria defender Onome Ebi has played at four previous Fifa World Cups

Veteran defender Onome Ebi is set to become the first African to play in five Fifa global tournaments after being named in Nigeria’s Women’s World Cup squad.

36-year-old Ebi, who has been part of the Super Falcons set-up since making her debut in 2003, played at the 2003, 2007, 2011 and 2015 World Cups.

Ebi’s inclusion and the omission of Ini-Abasi Umotong were the two main talking points after Nigeria coach Thomas Dennerby named his players for France 2019.

Ebi, the 2018 Nigerian footballer of the year and four-time winner of the African Women’s Cup of Nations, believes playing in France will complete her football story.

“To play in five World Cups will feel like I’ve achieved everything there is in football,” Ebi told BBC Sport.

Both highly-rated England-based Umotong of Brighton and defender Josephine Chukwunonye – who plays in Sweden – were included in the provisional squad but both players have seen their tournament dreams dashed.

Another veteran Evelyn Nwabuoku, 33, came in from the cold to take her place in the squad after she caught the eyes of Dennerby at the regional Wafu Cup in Ivory Coast, with Alice Ogebe and Chidinma Okeke also making the party.

Established FC Barcelona striker and three-time African footballer of the year, Asisat Oshoala, Francisca Ordega, Desire Oparanozie, Ngozi Okobi, Rasheedat Ajibade and Rita Chikwelu are also included in a strong 23-woman squad of three goalkeepers, five defenders, six midfielders and nine forwards.

Nigeria will depart a training camp in Austria on 4 June for Reims, where they open their World Cup campaign against 1995 winners Norway on 8 June.

The nine-time African champions will then play South Korea in Grenoble on 12 June before facing hosts France on 17 June in Rennes.

The West Africans hold the record of being the only African nation to have qualified for every Women’s World Cup since it began in 1991.

However, they have failed to translate their continental dominance on the world stage, with their best performance coming in USA in 1999 when they reached the quarter-finals.

They have failed to go beyond the group stages in the last four editions in 2003, 2007, 2011 and 2015.

South Africa and Cameroon are Africa’s other representatives in France and the trio will be hoping to do better than Nigeria’s quarter-finals place in 1999.

Debutants South Africa will play in Group B alongside Germany, China and Spain.

Cameroon are drawn in Group E with Canada, New Zealand and the Netherlands.

Nigeria final squad:

Goalkeepers: Tochukwu Oluehi (Rivers Angels); Alaba Jonathan (Bayelsa Queens); Chiamaka Nnadozie (Rivers Angels)

Defenders: Osinachi Ohale (Vaxjo DFF, Sweden); Ngozi Ebere (Arna Bjornar, Norway); Onome Ebi (Henan Huisanhang, China); Faith Michael (Pitea IF, Sweden); Chidinma Okeke (FC Robo)

Midfielders: Rita Chikwelu (Krstianstand DFF, Sweden); Ngozi Okobi-Okeoghene (Eskiltuna United, Sweden); Evelyn Nwabuoku (Rivers Angels); Ogonna Chukwudi (Djurgardens IF, Sweden); Halimatu Ayinde (Eskiltuna United, Sweden); Amarachi Okoronkwo (Nasarawa Amazons)

Forwards: Desire Oparanozie (En Avant Guingamp, France); Anam Imo (Malmo FC Rosengard, Sweden); Asisat Oshoala (FC Barcelona, Spain); Chinaza Uchendu (SC Braga, Portugal); Uchenna Kanu (Southeastern University, USA); Rasheedat Ajibade (Alvadsnes IL, Norway); Francisca Ordega (Shanghai W. FC); Alice Ogebe (Rivers Angels); Chinwendu Ihezuo (Henana Huisanhang, China)



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