NWSL dominates Nigeria Super Falcons Olympic squad

Salazar: Alex Morgan's exclusion from Olympic roster a 'massive decision' (0:58)

Sebastian Salazar says Alex Morgan's exclusion from the United States Olympic roster is a big deal but not a huge surprise. (0:58)

Four NWSL players were named on Randy Waldrum's 18-player Nigeria roster for the Paris Olympics, including Bay FC's Asisat Oshoala, and Racing Louisville FC's Uchenna Kanu.

Michelle Alozie of Houston Dash and Nicole Payne of Portland Thorns made up the America-based contingent, while Utah Royals forward Ify Onumonu was selected but only as one of five alternates.

Head Coach Waldrum has also picked two players from the Nigerian domestic league to join Onumonu as alternates.

But there was no place for former captain Onome Ebi or forward Francisca Ordega, while defender Ashleigh Plumptre is still recovering from injury.

The squad are expected to begin a two-week training camp in Seville, Spain on Thursday in preparation for the tournament.

The 11-time African champions, returning to the Games for the first time since 2008, have been drawn in a tough group with Brazil, former world champions Japan, and reigning world champions Spain.

Waldrum is under no illusions about the enormity of the task ahead of the Super Falcons but told ESPN he has picked the best team to make a splash: "I think this one could be a special group.

"We've shown our quality against some of the best teams in the world at the World Cup and hopefully, we'll do the same at the Olympics."

In the week leading up to the squad announcement, there were unconfirmed media reports about pressure from officials on the coach to include players like veteran defender Ebi and forward Ordega.

Ebi denied the reports, saying on Instagram: "I was never involved in the picture of the Olympic program from the start.

"I never had any reason to call anyone, or think I would be with the team because of the limited amount of players going. And the coach also made me understand that he wants to focus on younger players for the Olympics which I respected his decision.

"I would have loved to end it all with the honour of helping the team qualify and and going for the Olympics which was my goal, but that wasn't in my power alone to make happen and I would never beg to achieve that.

Waldrum says he is happy with where the team is going: "I love the direction that we're headed. I think now after a rough start there. I think we're headed in a in a good direction.

"I think there's a lot of upcoming talent as we start to move some of the older players out, after the Olympics and bring some young talent in I think we can accomplish great things in the next level."

Their first game, against Brazil, comes up at the Stade Bordeaux on July 25, before confrontations with Spain on July 28 and their final group game against Japan is on July 31.

The matches against Spain and Japan will hold at the Stade de la Beaujoire in Nantes, where the Super Eagles famously defeated tournament favourites Spain 3-2 in a memorable game at the 1998 FIFA World Cup finals.


Goalkeepers: Chiamaka Nnadozie (Paris FC); Tochukwu Oluehi (Shualat Alsharqia FC, Saudi Arabia)

Defenders: Osinachi Ohale (Pachucha Club de Futbol, Mexico); Oluwatosin Demehin (Stade de Reims, France); Michelle Alozie (Houston Dash, USA); Nicole Payne (Portland Thorns FC, USA); Chidinma Okeke (Mynavi Sendai Ladies, Japan)

Midfielders: Deborah Abiodun (University of Pittsburgh, USA); Halimatu Ayinde (FC Rosengard, Sweden); Christy Ucheibe (SL Benfica, Portugal); Jennifer Echegini (Juventus Ladies, Italy); Toni Payne (Sevilla FC, Spain)

Forwards: Rasheedat Ajibade (Atletico Madrid FC, Spain); Esther Okoronkwo (Changchun FC, China); Asisat Oshoala (Bay FC, USA); Uchenna Kanu (Racing Louisville, USA); Chiwendu Ihezuo (Pachucha Club de Futbol, Mexico); Chinonyerem Macleans (Locomotiv Moscow, Russia)

Alternate Players: Jumoke Alani (Nasarawa Amazons); Ifeoma Onumonu (Utah Royals, USA); Gift Monday (Coasta Adeje Tenerife Egatesa, Spain); Morufa Ademola (Rivers Angels)