Oshoala is well on the way to taking over from Nigerian woman's footballing legend Perpetua Nkwocha, and she told FIFA.com that the four-time winner of the African Women's Footballer of the Year award, who also won the African Championships four times and participated at three FIFA Women's World Cups™, is her role model. “She is a very good person and a very good player and has encouraged me a lot. She helped my game. I have tried to emulate her style of play, but it is not only on the field that I have learned from her, it's also off the pitch. I look at her character and see that it is something that young people can aspire to.”
It seems likely that she will do just that, as success has not gone to her head. When asked if she would exchange her Golden Ball award from Canada last year with a winners medal from the same tournament she laughs. “That is a tough question,” she says with the honesty that makes her so likeable. “It is not an easy choice, and I don't know what I would do.”
Oshoala started playing football in secondary school. “I was always into sport and was an athlete at first. I used to run home from school. I then started playing football with my friends and classmates. Mainly boys and that is when I became really interested. I did not think about becoming a professional then, though. I also did not have the support of my parents, who did not want me to play. It was only when they noticed that I was serious that they started supporting me.”
Oshoala joined FC River Internationals in Lagos, before being signed by River Angels from Port Harcourt. Just a few weeks ago, Oshoala signed a contract with Liverpool Ladies. “That was something special, and I am sure it will give me a lot more experience. I will have a chance to play in the Champions League."
Super Falcons coach Edwin Okon says she can play anywhere. “I could even use her in defence, she is that good, but I use her mainly as a striker.” For Oshoala, it makes no difference where she plays. “I have no favourite position. The coach often uses me on the wings and I am fine with that. I just love playing, but it makes no difference where.”
Going back to Canada
It is likely that Oshoala will spearhead the Super Falcons' attack at the Women's World Cup in Canada later this year, where the Africans are hoping to finally arrive on the big stage. Although they have long been a global player in youth football – with three semi-final appearances in a row at the U-20 level, they have not managed to bring that success to a senior women's level and have only once, from six appearances, made it out of the group stage. “We have huge number of talents at the youth level, but we need to properly harness them as they graduate to the senior team,” says Nkwocha. “But with good preparation surely our team will excel. We have the players and experience to do well in Canada.”
It is a view that Oshoala shares. “I am confident that this year we will see Nigeria doing well. We have the players and many of them have already played together at youth level.”
Whether or not the 20-year-old will team up with the 38-year-old depends on Okon, who took Nkwocha to Namibia for the African championships at the end of last year. “Whether she makes the squad for Canada is up to the coaching staff. We will look at the players and then take the best squad.”
Nkwocha, who has just signed a contract as player-coach at Swedish lower league side Clemensnas IF, would like to be in Canada. “If they call me up I should be grateful to serve my country.”
It could well be the only opportunity that the two players – the one an African footballing legend and the other a potential legend in the making – have the opportunity of parading their skills together on the global stage.