Coach Edwin Okon named a preliminary 26-woman squad for the Nigeria senior women team ahead of the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Canada which begins on 6 June.
A notable absence is legendary striker Perpetua Nkwocha. The 39-year-old four-time African Women Footballer of the Year was dropped after participating in three straight World Cup outings in 2003, 2007 and 2011.
Her hope of making a fourth World Cup appearance was dashed as the coached opted for younger players in keeping with his philosophy of building the team for the future.
The African champions’ squad, drawn after nearly four months of camping at the FIFA Goal Project in Abuja since February 22, is composed of four goalkeepers, eight defenders, seven midfielders and six strikers. The Super Falcons’ team, captained by Evelyn Nwabuoku, is largely filled with members of the 2014 African Women Championship winning team, including the reigning African Women Player of the Year Asisat Oshoala.
Surprise selected talents who made the squad are AWC winner Christy Ohiariaku, former Falconets star Courtney Dike who plays for the Kansas State University team and Portsmouth Ladies’ Iniabasi Umotong, and former Flamingoes striker Chinwendu Ihezuo.
Nigeria have been drawn in the tournament’s toughest group alongside two-time winners USA, Sweden and Australia in Group D for the Women’s World Cup that will take place between 6 June and 5 July.
Edwin Okon is expected to submit his final squad on 28 May.
Meanwhile, the former Falconets coach has dropped eight players from the 36-player list invited to camp for the All African Games, Olympics and World Cup preparations earlier in February.
The dropped players are Chisom Henry, Yetunde Adeboyejo, Chioma Wogu, Onyinyechi Okeke, Gladys Akpa, Ramatu Abdulkarim, Winifred Eyebhokia and Chinaza Uchendu.