Ace forward Rasheedat Ajibade will lead Nigeria’s senior women team when they confront their Japanese counterparts in a prestigious international friendly match in Kobe on Thursday.
Regular skipper Onome Ebi is only just recovering from an injury sustained at the Women Africa Cup of Nations finals in Morocco in July and Spain-based forward Asisat Oshoala is not in Kobe for this encounter.
The precocious Ajibade scored three of Nigeria’s goals in Morocco, including the winner against Cameroon in the quarter-finals that qualified the nine-time African champions to the FIFA Women’s World Cup finals in Australia and New Zealand next year.
First-choice goalkeeper Chiamaka Nnadozie is available, alongside defenders Michelle Alozie, Osinachi Ohale, Ashleigh Plumptre and Glory Ogbonna, as well as midfielders Ngozi Okobi-Okeoghene, Christy Ucheibe and Deborah Abiodun, and forwards Ifeoma Onumonu and Uchenna Kanu.
Also in Kobe are goalkeeper Peace Obidinma, defenders Jumoke Alani and Akudo Ogbonna, midfielders Peace Efih and Esther Onyenezide, and forwards Amanda Uju Mbadi and Flourish Sebastian.
Abiodun, Obidinma, Alani, Onyenezide, and Sebastian were in the Nigeria U20 squad at the FIFA U20 Women’s World Cup in Costa Rica in August.
The Super Falcons, ever-present at the FIFA Women’s World Cup, take on former world champions Japan at the Noevir Stadium, Kobe as from 4.30pm Japan time (8.30 am Nigeria time) on Thursday.
Both teams have clashed only once at a competitive level – at the 2004 Olympic Women’s Football Tournament. Nadeshiko pipped the Falcons 1-0 at the Karaiskakis Stadium in Piraeus on 14th August 2004. Two back-to-back friendlies in 2013 were won 2-0 each by Nadeshiko.
Thursday’s match comes less than a month after the Super Falcons embarked on a two-match tour of the United States of America, where they played the USWNT in Kansas City and Washington DC.