The Under 20 women's world cup commences in a couple of weeks time in Costa Rica with Nigeria expected to put compelling displays.
With the Super Falcons performing below expectations at the recently concluded Wafcon tournament, Nigeria fans are keen to see which of the Falconets Under-20 players can be fast tracked to the Super Falcons team for the world cup next July. .
Please look out for the following players whom I believe can be easily elevated into the Super Falcons set up:
1) Oluwatosin Demehin: the Rivers Angels centre defender was on the bench against USA in last year's summer series.
She was meant to be considered for further Super Falcons invitations but the decision was taken for her to first focus on her Under 20 career more so as Ebi and Ohale continue to strenuously hold on to those centre back positions beyond their prime.
I expect Demehin to push hard for a place in the world cup next year.
2) Flourish Sebastine : the Edo Queens speedster has a huge career in front of her after hopefully setting the Under-20 world cup ablaze.
She plays with a style similar to Ademola Lookman and Rasheedat Ajibade with her blistering pace, trickery and killer instinct in front of goal.
Owing to the plethora of indigenous and dual nationality attacking options open to the Super Falcons presently, next year’s World Cup might just have come too early.
But, if over-familiar faces like Ordega, Oparanozie, Ayinde, Okobi and Chikwelu become unavailable for one reason or another, then Sebastian might just sail towards world cup consideration.
Flourish emerged joint top scorer in world cup qualifiers with 7 scintillating goals. I expect her to take this blistering form to next month's U-20 World Cup where hopefully her antics will attract the attention of Randy Waldrum.
3) Mercy Idoko: the Nasarawa Amazons midfielder/attacker is the epitome of calmness with the ball. She reads the game with a level of intelligence that is way beyond her years.
She sort of reminds me of Mikel Obi in his Under-20 days and earlier in his senior career before Mourinho’s cardinal sin of converting him into a defensive midfielder.
I don’t see any reason why Idoko cannot be brought in to replace Rita Chikwelu. That said, the likes of Esther Okoronkwo, Peace Efih, Christie Ucheibe and Rasheedat Ajibade provide stern competition in that midfield, not to talk about evergreen duo of Okobi and Ayinde.
But, should Mercy Idoko mesmerise audiences at the youth World Cup, then Waldrum should have an additional prospect to consider.
Idoko, who can also play as a support striker, was third highest goals scorer in the world cup qualifiers with 5 goals.
4) Esther Onyenezide: some would argue that the Robo Queens midfielder is the peak of the bunch and I can see why.
Esther is very mouldable and pliable because of her football intelligence hence why she comes across as been extremely versatile.
She has a keen eye for defence splitting passes and she sure knows her way to goal. She is technically gifted and – like Rasheedat Ajibade – can fit into a variety of wing, forward, attacking midfield, and centre midfield roles.
She is a well conditioned athlete and definitely one to look out for at the World Cup.
Again Onyenezide is one of those players expected to push speedily for a place in the Super Falcons squad for next year’s World Cup.
Esther Onyenezide, along with compatriot Mercy Idoko, also scored 5 goals in the world cup qualifiers.
5) Rofiat Imuran : the Rivers Angels fullback is not a stranger to the Super Falcons. Coach Randy Waldrum picked Imuran ahead of Michelle Alozie for Nigeria’s cruch Wafcon qualifiers against Ghana.
Since then, the flamboyant fullback has focused more on her Falconets career. In a team desperately short of natural fullbacks, it will not shock me one bit if Waldrum hands Rofiat a call up ahead of the world cup.
The Under 20 women’s world cup is the perfect platform for Imuran to sell herself as worthy of taking her rightful place in the Super Falcons.
She is very rugged in her defensive duties and she loves to overlap with intent.
Other players with an outside chance of gatecrashing the Super Falcons squad are: Joy Jerry (exciting striker), Bashirat Amoo (sturdy midfielder) and Deborah Abiodun (dependable defender).
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