Nine-time African champions Super Falcons arrived in the Austrian capital, Vienna for an eight-day training camp as part of preparations for some upcoming challenges, notably the Aisha Buhari Invitational Women’s Football Tournament.
The city of Lagos will host the six-nation invitational that will see the Super Falcons, Ghana’s Black Queens, Cameroon’s Indomitable Lionesses, Banyana Banyana of South Africa, Morocco, and Mali tango in a celebratory atmosphere in September for a glittering trophy named in honour of Nigeria’s First Lady, Dr. (Mrs) Aisha Buhari.
26 players, alongside technical and administrative staff, are lodged at the Event Hotel Pyramide Vienna for the purpose of total concentration as Coach Randy Waldrum seeks to harness the different qualities and abilities of individual players to build a stronger team.
Before the Summer Series tour of the United States of America in June, where the Falcons drew with Portugal and lost narrowly to Jamaica and host USWNT, few Nigerian ball fans had heard of Yewande Balogun, Onyinyechi Zogg, Nicole Payne and Michelle Alozie. But they formed part of a group that bonded with foreign-based and home-based professionals.
Waldrum has unearthed even more prospects as the Ijeh sisters (Josephine and Evelyn), Megan Ashleigh and Ninuola Dada are part of the training camp in Austria, even as England –based forward Ini-Abasi Umotong makes a return to the fold of the perennial African champions.
The camp in Austria is the third gathering that the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) has arranged for the Super Falcons this year, following an interesting three-wins-out-three account at the Turkish Women’s Cup in Antalya in February and the Summer Series in the USA last month.
First –choice goalkeeper Chiamaka Nnadozie, defender Osinachi Ohale, midfield impresario Ngozi Okobi-Okeoghene and forward Uchenna Kanu, who all missed the tour of USA for one reason or the other are in Austria. There is also a return for former captain Desire Oparanozie as well as fellow forward Ebere Orji.
The countdown to the Aisha Buhari Invitational Women’s Tournament has already started with the Super Falcons insisting the trophy will surely remain in Nigeria after the one-week event.