Super Falcons and FC Barcelona Femeni of Spain forward Asisat Oshoala has revealed what happened to the team after they lost to Morocco in the semi final of the 2022 Women’s Africa Cup of Nations last month.
The Super Falcons who aimed to extend their unprecedented title haul to 10 were brought down to earth by the Atlas Lionesses through a 5-4 penalty shootout after score stood at 1-1 at the end of extra-time in the thrilling encounter.
The team tutored by Randy Waldrum had two key players; Halimatu Ayinde and Rasheedat Ajibade sent off in the second half due to red card offences.
The 9-times champions who were favourites to lift the title held on gallantly before they fell to the Moroccans.
In this interview, Oshoala who was ruled out of the tournament after she sustained an injury in the opening group game against South Africa revealed what happened in the camp.
She also spoke on being crowned the Best Women’s Player of the Year for the fifth time which was a record.
Question: Congratulations for this wonderful feat you have achieved.
Oshoala: Thank you.
When you equalled Perpetua Nkwocha’s record for the 4th time. Did you think this fifth one was going to come so soon?
Oshoala: I mean, personally I’m not a person who set goals.
It gets to a point where you feel like, okay, you have an opportunity to get something and you just try to encourage yourself to work harder. And there’s a possibility that you can actually create your own record you know. So I mean, I got the 4th one in 2019, so I feel like I have more than enough time to create my own records, you know. So I was just working, but at the end of it I got lucky again.
Question: How did you feel when you cradled the award in your hands?
Oshoala: It was crazy. This was the first time that I actually felt differently, winning the African player of the Year. Because I didn’t believe I was going to win because it was kind of like tough with the last three nominees. So it was a case of it can go to any of the nominees. So I think I got lucky this time.
Question: What kept you going? You had a season filled with injuries, limited time to play, but each time you had the opportunity to play, you just kept on banging the goals?
Oshoala: I think one thing about me is I love to play football and I feel like football is more about entertainment and I know that my job is to entertain people and that’s what I go out to do and I know what the excitement in football is. Scoring goals, showing skills and all of that. So I just want to score goals because that’s what I know how to do best. I want to score goals. I want to make the fans happy. I want to make people come to the stadium to enjoy the game, you know. So I had the tough season. I got injured for two months, another 10 weeks and another one again you know. But when I’m playing, I don’t put all this in my head. I keep them behind me and I’m like okay, It’s a new beginning again and I just keep going.
Question: A lot of people you would have dedicated the award to but why the Super Falcons?
Oshoala: To be honest, we really deserve better as a team like the Super Falcons.
I just remembered when I had my injury in the first game, the kind of positivity that I received from the girls. You know, even while I was not in camp, we still talk. We kept in touch video calls, long video calls, sometimes you know, and this tournament we lost in the semi finals the other day and you can clearly see that they gave everything and you know they also promised me they were going to win the trophy for me. I shouldn’t worry when I got injured in the first game, I think it’s only normal for me to give the trophy to them because I feel like we deserve better in this tournament and maybe this is just going to help a little bit.
Question: So, how was it like when the Super Falcons lost that game against Morocco?
Oshoala: It was tough for me when we had the first red card. I think it was in the 48 minute and I knew it was not going to be that easy, you know? Playing against the home team, the fans, sold out stadium and everything you know and then you are one man down and the pressure kept on coming and then 70 something minutes again. We had another red card, you know. I felt really, really different. I felt bad, I couldn’t sleep the whole night. I mean, I was on the call with the girls the whole night. We didn’t sleep. I don’t know. I think around 6:00 AM was when everyone went to bed because it was tough for us as a team.
We’re not used to losing to African sides, you know? So it was it was really a tough night.
Q: Any regrets that you didn’t finish the tournament with the rest of the team?
Oshoala: I mean, obviously I wanted to play. It’s been a long time I’ve been advocating for the Confederation of African Football (CAF) to bring back the WAFCON and then eventually, we get to play the tournament because the last time when it was cancelled, I was mad and angry. Why would they cancel the tournament when the guys have to play theirs and then they cancelled ours? So I was really going crazy with the thought then and then the tournament came and I got injured. I really wanted to be out there. Help my team mates. I really want to be out there to bring smiles on the faces of Nigerians to give 100% and all of that, but sometimes you just have to accept that somethings just come with the game. You’re a professional player and this is upon you know. So of course I regretted not being able to play in the tournament.
Question: And finally, the young girl out there in Nigeria and in Africa are looking up to you as a mentor or a role model. What do you have for them?
Oshoala: I mean when I was young I had the senior ones that I looked up to as well. The likes of Perpetua, Mercy Akide, Stella Mbachu, you know, and I had opportunity to play with a couple of them too and what they used to say is, just be yourself and try to improve your game and you’re going to be up there and I think I followed and tried to adhere to what they said and it got me to this point. So I’m just going to pass down the same message to the younger generation. Be yourself, work hard, stay focused, and don’t be distracted.
There’s going to be a lot of distraction along the way. Money would come. Opportunities would come. Have a goal and make sure you stay focused on that goal. No matter what comes to you. Make sure you have a focus and I believe you get to the investment.
Question: Congratulations once again and thanks for your time.
Oshoala: you’re welcome
Compiled by Tayo Ogunseye