Super Falcons captain Asisat Oshoala and Leicester City defender Ashleigh Plumptre on Tuesday arrived the women’s national team camp in Abuja, ahead of Friday’s 2022 African Women’s Cup of Nations final qualifying clash against the Lady Elephants of Ivory Coast at the Moshood Abiola National Stadium, Abuja.
The second leg comes up at the Stade Robert Champroux in Abidjan February.
The duo’s arrival increased the number of players in camp to 25.
Already in camp are Atletico Madrid striker Rasheedat Ajibade, Toni Payne , Rita Chikwelu, Ifeoma Onumonu, Michelle Alozie, Ngozi Okobi, Tochi Oluehi, Chiamaka Nnadozie, Onome Ebi, Esther Okoronkwo, Yetunde Aluko and Peace Effih.
Others are Tosin Dimehin, Rofiat Imuran, Regina Out, Nicole Payne, Yewande Balogun, Vivian Ikechukwu, Amanda Mbadim, Gift Monday, Amarachi Okoronkwo, Grace Igboamalu and Akudo Ogbonna.
Nine-time champions and holders Nigeria beat Ghana 2-1 on aggregate to reach this stage, where they face high-scoring Lady Elephants, who mauled their counterparts from Niger Republic 20-0 on aggregate in the previous round.
Falcons coach Randy Waldrum says his players are aware of the importance of the big match.
“Every player in camp is aware of the high importance of these two matches against Ivory Coast.
We must win to get to the AWCON, where the African teams for the FIFA Women’s World Cup will emerge.
It is one step at a time, but we all know that we must win well in Abuja on Friday.
Friday’s encounter, which kicks off at 4pm, is the first game the Falcons will play at the Abiola stadium since defeating their Senegalese counterparts 2-0 in April 2016, in the final qualifying round of the 10th AWCON finals in Cameroon.
The 12-team 12th AWCON, which holds in Morocco from July 2 to 23, will see all four semi-finalists qualify for the 2023 Women’s World Cup, to be co-hosted by Australia and New Zealand.
It is the first Women’s World Cup to entertain 32 teams – same number as the men’s finals.
Hosts Morocco and Uganda, who reached the finals following the withdrawal of Kenya, have already qualified, leaving 10 teams to emerge from a 20-team final round that begins on Wednesday and will be concluded February 23.
AWCON: Oshoala, Plumptre arrive in Falcons camp