A few weeks before Arsenal Ladies won their 14th Women’s FA Cup trophy this weekend, I interviewed Nigeria’s Super Falcons star Asisat Oshoala. It was just after Nigeria’s 2-0 win over Senegal at the Abuja National Stadium which catapulted the reigning champions to this year’s African Women Championship in Cameroon.
Is there a sense of relief that despite your penalty miss, Nigeria was able to win confirming its place at the African Women’s Championship in Cameroon?
Sure, to miss a penalty especially in an important game as this isn’t a good thing but I’m glad my teammates came to the rescue and now we’ll be going for our eighth African title in Cameroon.
The Super Falcons have dominated the tournament since its inception. Is there a fear within your camp that your dominance might be threatened this time around with countries like Mali, Ghana and host Cameroon all looking stronger?
All the countries you mentioned are amazing footballing countries and are capable of doing well but at the end of the day, we are only looking at our capabilities as a team.
You cannot expect to score all the time.
We believe in ourselves and we are going to do all we can to maintain our stranglehold on the AWC title.
You were unable to find the net in the two games against Senegal which has elicited some discussions among football circles that your form might have dipped in recent times. Any comments?
It happens in football, you cannot expect to score all the time, that’s why the game is a team effort. Whenever you’re having an off-day some of your other teammates can step up and get the job done.
But I’m not worried about my form at all because I understand the game well and one can contribute to other aspects despite not scoring but hopefully the goals will start flowing again.
You recently joined Arsenal Ladies from Liverpool. How are you adapting to your new club?
It has been great. Coach Pedro Losa and the rest of the team have all welcomed me with open arms and are continuously making my journey with the team enjoyable. We are all like sisters and hopefully all our targets for the season will be achieved.
You launched the Asisat Oshoala U17-football tournament in your Mushin area of Lagos this year. What’s the story behind this project?
Like I’ve said several times before, the idea is to help groom the next football stars for Nigeria and at the same time give back to the community which has done a lot for me in terms of support and prayer.
There are many girls going through a lot of difficulties in their lives and the competition might be an avenue for them to showcase their talents.
There are many girls going through a lot of difficulties in their lives and the competition might be an avenue for them to showcase their talents and get uplifted like I was. Basically I feel I can help out in my own little way to bring end to some vices suffered by ladies through the game of football.
After you shone at the 2014 FIFA U20 World Cup in Canada (where you won MVP) you were invited to that year’s gala night in Zurich where you mingled with the high and mighty in the game. How did you feel at the time?
It was an amazing feeling. Yes, I had a good tournament at the U20 World Cup that year and I’m still sad that we narrowly lost out to Germany in the final but, yes, I enjoyed travelling to Zurich for the gala night.
I enjoyed every bit of the events.
The photographs I took with some of the most renowned personalities in the game remain a treasure: Cristiano Ronaldo, Germany manager Joachim Loew and Lionel Messi… I enjoyed every bit of the events and hopefully many more of such opportunity will come my way.
The Super Falcons went to last year’s FIFA Senior Women’s World Cup not as one of the favourites for the title – but many thought Nigeria could at least reach the knockout stages for the first time considering the strength of the team. What went wrong?
For me, personally, I see last year’s World Cup as a learning curve because it was not as if the other teams were far better than us but just a bit of edges in vital areas which we lacked. We gave our all as a team and we were all disappointed that we didn’t go as far as we wanted. Hopefully we’ll right that wrong at the next Mundial.
Ex-female star Florence Omagbemi and legendary player Perpetua Nkwocha are in charge of the Super Falcons at the moment. Considering your past coaches were male, does it make any difference in terms of training and approach?
All coaches have one goal in mind and that is to make the team wins, so no matter who’s in charge, it’s the same objective, same targets. I enjoy working with the present coaches.
I’m there to do my job no matter who is in charge.
Omagbemi and Nkwocha have all left impressive legacies in the sport and are massive names but as a professional I’m there to do my job no matter who is in charge so as to help the team win.
Assist, thank you for your time.
Thank you too.