Nigeria may never have been a threat to other countries to win the FIFA Women’s World Cup, yet they have provided plenty of entertainment during their seven outings at football’s biggest tournament.
The nine-time champions of African Women’s Cup of Nations (AWCON) will forever be remembered as the country that almost knocked out Brazil at the quarter-final stage at USA 1999.
When this year’s edition kicks off in France on Friday, the Super Falcons are bidding to become the first African country to get their hands on the famous trophy.
Here, to continue our countdown to the women’s World Cup, TheCable looks at the top 10 Falcons players in Nigeria’s history in no particular order.
Precious Dede (2002-2015)
Such was the esteem in which Dede was held, she started playing for the Super Falcons in the early 2000s. Since then, she’s featured in four World Cups and four AWCONs. She also kept goal at the Olympics in 2004 and 2008 for Nigeria.
She became a key figure winning two AWCON titles.
Maureen Mmadu (1993-2011)
The most capped Super Falcons player with 101 appearances for the senior national side.
She showed during her club stints in Sweden and Norway, that she would be an asset for many teams. An old-fashioned midfielder, Mmadu is capable of putting in a tough tackle as well as picking out a pass.
Stella Mbachu (2008-2014)
The winger will forever be placed on a pedestal by Nigerian supporters for the important goals she notched for the national team.
She had her first national team appearance and scored in the Super Falcons’ 2-0 win against Ghana in Abeokuta in the maiden AWCON in 1998.
The Most Valuable Player at 2010 AWCON who had 89 appearances and scored 20 goals for Nigeria.
Asisat Oshoala (2014-present)
Oshoala has a rich history of professional clubs with stints at Arsenal, Liverpool, Dalian Quanjian and Barcelona.
She has won three AWCON titles, one English FA Women’s Cup, one Chinese Women’s Super League shield, three CAF Best Player Awards, the maiden BBC Women’s Footballer of the Year gong, African Women’s Youth Player of the Year, African Women’s Championship Golden Ball, FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup Golden Boot, FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup Golden Ball, and Chinese Women’s Super League Top scorer.
Renowned for scoring goals from distance with her powerful shot, Oshoala was made a member of the order of the Niger by the former president of Nigeria, Goodluck Jonathan, in 2014.
On June 8, 2015, in Winnipeg, Canada, Oshoala opened her senior FIFA Women’s World Cup account by scoring Nigeria’s second goal in a 3-3 draw against Sweden.
Kikelomo Ajayi (1998-2008)
Nicknamed “Mamayaro”, Kikelomo Ajayi won five AWCONs in a row between 1998 and 2006, and took part in the 1999 and 2003 World Cups and the 2000 and 2008 Summer Olympics. She served as the Nigerian women team’s captain.
Florence Omagbemi (1991-2004)
Omagbemi played for the Nigeria women’s national football team for over a decade, appearing in four FIFA Women’s World Cups including being a member of the team that reached the second round in 1999 before losing to Brazil.
As captain, she won the AWCON with the Super Falcons on four occasions in 1998, 2000, 2002 and 2004. She was also part of the Nigerian team which competed at the Summer Olympics for the first time in the 2000 tournament in Australia.
Onome Ebi (2003-present)
No defender has made more appearances for Nigeria than the centre-back; she made her debut as a 20-year-old and went on to feature at World Cups in 2003, 2007, 2011 and 2015.
She featured in 2003, 2007, 2011 and 2015 editions of the FIFA Women’s World Cup and ready for her fifth appearance if she featured in Nigeria’s first group A match against Norway on Saturday. She also played at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Ebi was also a member of the Nigerian squad in the 2008, 2010, 2012, 2014, 2016 and 2018 editions of the AWCON, winning the tournament four times 2010, 2014, 2016 and 2018.
Ann Chiejine (1991-2005)
During her career, Ann Chiejine played at three World Cups, particularly shining during USA ’99 where she was part of the team that went so close to defeating Brazil in the last eight.
A veteran of three World Cups, Chiejine was one of the most experienced players in international women football. Fondly remembered for being between the sticks when pregnant during the 2003 World Cup.
Chiejine made the Super Falcons’ goalkeeping position her sole preserve before retiring from international football in 2005.
Mercy Akide-Udoh (1994-2004)
No Nigerian player has made as much of an impact on a stage as grand as the World Cup than Akide who was 26 when she took USA ’99 by storm. She scored two goals as Nigeria defied the odds to reach the quarter-finals.
In 2001, she was named the first African Women Footballer of the Year, and was a 1999 and 2004 FIFA World All-Star.
She has played for Nigeria in three FIFA Women’s World Cups and also helped Nigeria’s Super Falcons to AWCON titles in 1998, 2000 and 2002.
Her impact for both club and international resulted in being named by FIFA as one of its 15 Ambassadors for Women Football in 2005.
Perpetua Nkwocha (1999-2015)
Five AWCON titles, four African Women’s Footballer of the Year awards and three AWCON Top goalscorer gongs are among the honours that Nkwocha can look back on.
Goals have been the 43-year-old Falcons forward bread and butter throughout her career, scoring over 145 for club and country to date.
Her international career has been an eventful one, culminating in her becoming Nigeria’s leading goalscorer of all time.