Perpetua Nkwocha will be making a third appearance at the FIFA Women’s World Cup after she was included in the Nigerian team for the upcoming tournament in Germany.
The 35-year-old forward had previously taken part in both the 2003 and 2007 tournaments, which took place in the United States of America and China, respectively, and tops a list of 21 players submitted to football’s world governing body, FIFA by the Nigeria Football Federation on Tuesday.
However, the Sweden-based reigning African Women Player of the Year, who has also taken part at three Olympic Games tournaments, isn’t the only veteran of two previous Women’s World Cup included in the Nigerian squad as she will have for company goalkeeper Precious Dede who has been synonymous with the national team for close to a decade.
Long regarded as the best goalkeeper in Africa, the 31-year-old goalkeeper, who also doubles as captain of the national team and her club side, Delta Queens, will need to be at her best if the Super Falcons are to stand any chance of making it past the group stage in Germany.
The Super Falcons are grouped alongside reigning world champions Germany, France and Canada with only the top two finishers in the group advancing to the quarter finals.
The likes of defenders Faith Ikidi, Onome Ebi and Ulunma Jerome, as well as the duo of Ogonna Chukwudi and Stella Mbachu who were all at the last tournament in China, were also included in the squad coached by former international Eucharia Uche.
There was however no room for former African Women Player of the Year Cynthia Uwak, who has for sometime now been left out of the national team by national team selectors.
Nevertheless, Uche, who as a player took part in the debut edition of the Women’s World Cup back in 1991 in China, has gone for a mixture of experience and youth and will be hoping the Super Falcons can progress to the knockout rounds for the first time since 1999.
Nigeria finished second behind eventual winners, the United States in the group stage but lost out to Brazil 4-3 in a pulsating quarter final that went into extra-time, and have since then finished bottom of the log at their last two tournament appearances.
It was probably to avoid such a re-enactment that the team has been in training since May 26 in the Austrian town of Saalfelden.
They had a training match on Tuesday with an U-17 boys team and will play the national women’s team of Slovakia on Thursday at the Eugendorf Stadium.
Since setting up camp in Saalfelden, the Falcons have walloped an Austrian first division team, Wacker Innsbruck 7-0, pipped the Czech Republic national women’s team 1-0 and drawn 1-1 with the national women’s team of Austria in tune-up matches.