Asisat Oshoala: Set for Barca Debut

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L-R: Barcelona's Sports Manager, Markel Zubizarreta; Asisat Oshoala and Director of Women Football at Camp Nou, Maria Teixidor during the unveiling of Oshoala in Barcelona, Spain…Thursday

Having been left out of Barcelona’s game against Albacete last weekend, Nigerian international Asisat Oshoala would be hoping to make her debut and probably start her goals account with the Catalans giants away to Rayo Vallecano on Sunday

Barcelona women head coach, Luis Cortes is optimistic Oshoala can bring the team very good things and was excited to have landed the Super Falcons forward after watching her in training with the rest of the team.

The coach, however, did not include the former Dalian Quanjian player in last Sunday’s clash with Albacete at the Mini Estadi.

Ahead of Sunday’s clash with Albacete at the Mini Estadi, the handler said the three-time African women queen will not suit up for the league game.

“Asisat has arrived in a good physical condition. With the trip and the changes may be right now is not ready to play, but I think that from next week (Sunday) can start to bring us very good things to the team,” Cortes told the media.

Oshoala and her new Barcelona side have been drawn against last season’s beaten finalists Atletico Madrid in the Spanish Queen’s Cup semi-final in Madrid, while Real Sociedad will clash with Sevilla. Winners of the two semi-final matches on February 17 will square up for the final of the competition billed to be played in Granada on May 11.

In spite of not having a too impressive turnout at the last African Women Cup of Nations (AWCON) in Ghana, culminating in losing the 2018 CAF Women Africa Footballer Year title to South Africa’s Thembi Kgatlana. Spanish giants, Barcelona, however, did not lose sight of the natural ability the Falcons star possesses. It, therefore, came as a little surprise when the scouts of Camp Nou went for her signature.

Oshoala last Thursday took her professional career to another level after moving to Barcelona FC Ladies on loan from Chinese club, Dalian Quanjian.

The 24-year-old Nigerian, who was part of Super Falcons winning team at the African Women Nations Football tournament in Ghana late last year arrived in Barcelona on Thursday morning for the routine medical checks and then signed her contract in the President’s Office at the Camp Nou.

The Director responsible for the women section at Camp Nou, Maria Teixidor, and Sports Manager, Markel Zubizarreta, witnessed the brief ceremony.

Oshoala was three-times African Footballer of the Year- 2014, 2016 and 2017, won the Golden Boot and Golden Ball at the Under-20 World Cup in 2014 and was top goal-scorer in the Chinese Super League in 2017.

She’s quick and powerful (1.73 m and 70 kg) and has previous experience in European football at Arsenal (2016) and Liverpool (2015).

“This is obviously one of the best clubs in the world. The team has a great history and wonderful football mentality,” she said after she completed her switch.

“I am excited about playing with Vicky Losada again. She’s a great midfielder, with a lot of energy and skill. I also met Fabiana in China and she helped me to make this decision.

“My goal is to strengthen the team and help them to win and make history. This is a fantastic opportunity because I’m sure something big will happen here,” concludes the Falcons player.

Before joining the Barcelona, Oshoala has won highest goalscorer back-to-back in the Chinese women league.

She became second Super Falcons player to play in the Spanish Gemini after Fransisca Ordega played for Atletico Madrid Gemini side.

Oshoala had never compromised her passion for the round leather game right from the onset, as she abandoned her education for football against the wishes of her parents.

“My passion for football made me drop out of school. This is one sport I won’t compromise. Growing up, people see me as a tomboy as I always play alongside male footballers and still do at Arsenal and anytime I’m in Nigeria. Those that chose to go to school do so because they want to make it in life likewise those of us that opted to play football. Though my opting to play football was against my parents’ wish because they were not happy with my decision then but now I have brought them joy. I’m still not ruling out returning to school,” Oshoala said.

Oshoala is no stranger to the big stage. In 2015, at just 20, she was named the BBC Women’s Footballer of the Year, making her the first player to win the new award from the BBC World Service, voted for by football fans around the world, beating Spain’s Veronica Boquete, German Nadine Kessler, Scot Kim Little and Brazilian Marta to the honour.

Oshoala, who was the youngest player to be shortlisted, was the leading scorer at the U-20s World Cup in Canada in 2014 and was voted the tournament’s best player.

Her performances led Nigeria to the final where they were narrowly beaten by Germany and she was also a major influence in the senior Nigerian team who won the African Women’s Championship the same year.

The effort also earned her a national award, Member of the Order of the Niger (MON) from former President Goodluck Jonathan, saying she was overjoyed at being appreciated by the federal government.

Oshoala made headline when she signed for Liverpool in July 2015, becoming the first African player to play for any English women’s side.

“When I got the deal from them, I was very excited. I supported Liverpool when I was younger, especially when Luis Suarez was still here. He’s a player I have really admired,” Oshoala said.

In addition to Suarez, the Falcons star also idolises former Real and AC Milan midfielder, Clarence Seedorf.

“I like him so much. I like players who work hard and give everything on the pitch. When you see a player like that, he is an inspiration. I love the way Seedorf played; I love everything about him. For the same reason, I admire Luis Suarez. He is ready to give everything and do everything for his club. I love players like that,” she said.

However, less than a year later, Oshoala shifted her loyalty to Arsenal Ladies after a season with Liverpool, scoring three goals in 12 league appearances for the Reds.

After which she sojourned to China to pitch tent with Dalian Quanjian.

Looking back, she would always be grateful to FC Robo, where she cut her professional teeth. “I will always say a big thank to my first coach at FC Robo, Emmanuel Osahon. He discovered me and gave me my first break before I joined Port Harcourt club, Rivers Angels sports club,” she recalled.

In a chat with THISDAY, former Falcons goalkeeper, Ann Chiejina is optimistic that the way Oshoala is going, she would one day climb the podium for the FIFA Award.

“I just hope and pray she keeps working hard. With the way she’s going she is not too far from being selected for the FIFA Women’s Footballer Award,” Chiejina said.

Meanwhile, Oshoala has called for the continent to make conditions better for women, saying: “We deserve more. The federations in every country have to do more for female football.”

Nicknamed Superzee by her appreciative team-mates, the Nigerian striker owes her accolade to her speed and nose for goal.