Asisat Oshoala is the first name that comes to mind when people think about women’s football in Nigeria and the Super Falcons.
In the last four years since her emergence at the 2014 FIFA U20 Women’s World Cup where she finished as the highest goalscorer and best player, the 24-year-old has been the face of the Super Falcons.
While the Barcelona star continues to soar in status, her influence on the pitch for Nigeria’s women’s senior national team has waned over the years.
You would have to think back to the 2014 Africa Women’s Cup of Nations (AWCON) when Osohoala was really explosive in national colours, scoring four goals as Nigeria got their hands on the title.
Although she finished top of the goalscoring chart in the AWCON 2016, she failed to score in any of the knockout games as Nigeria went on to win another title.
In 2018, she managed three goals all in one game and was underwhelming all through the tournament as Nigeria relied on experience and resilience to get the title again.
On the world stage, she has also been disappointing for Nigeria, managing just one goal at the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup just a few weeks after she was named the first winner of the BBC Women’s Footballer of the Year.
Oshoala has had a brilliant club career, arguably the best by any Nigerian player in the history of women’s football with successful stints with Arsenal and Dalian Quanjian FC in China, while she has also played for Liverpool Ladies and Barcelona women’ where she recently made history as the first player in the club to score a goal in the UEFA Women’s Champions League final.
But it has been her inability to lead the Super Falcons in decisive moments that casts doubt on her legacy and undermine her when measure with greats like Mercy Akide-who was the star when Nigeria were on the verge of a place in the semi-finals of the 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup– and Perpetua Nkowcha who was the star of Super Falcons squads that dominated Africa in the early 2000s.
The 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup was her chance to grab the moment and further stamp her name in history. But it started horribly for her as the Super Falcons fell to a 3-0 loss to Norway in their opening game where she also missed Nigeria’s best chance of the game.
But she redeemed herself in Nigeria’s second game, using her pace and composure to score a well-taken goal to seal Nigeria’s win over South Korea.
That moment, however, won’t be enough for her as Nigeria are yet to secure qualification for the next round which is the Super Falcons would be judged with.
She has a chance to grab the headlines as Nigeria face host France, needing to avoid defeat for a place in the round of 16.