Despite being omitted from a 23-player squad for the Turkish Women’s Cup, former captain Desire Oparanozie is still part of the Super Falcons plans, according to the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF).
The France-based striker, 27, had been overlooked by the African Champions’ following a sit-in protest over unpaid bonuses and allowances at the 2019 World Cup in France.
Oparanozie said she was not surprised by her omission from new coach Randy Waldrum’s maiden squad hinting that it was because of the protest.
But the NFF’s director of communications Ademola Olajire has quickly played down talk of a rift between the Dijon striker and the football authority.
“Oparanozie is still part of the team’s plans and her non-inclusion has nothing to do with that protest in France because she was not the only one involved,” Olajire told BBC Sport Africa.
“Selection of players is predominantly the prerogative of the coaches and not the NFF.
“She remains an important member of the women’s national side. I think she will just have to keep working on her game and, if she gets the opportunity, then push for a consistent selection.”
Oparanozie had publicly defended her stance in France that the NFF should include players left out of the World Cup party as they look to pay players money owed from previous international fixtures over several years.
“I did what I felt was right. Even if that’s the only thing I did, I’m very happy.” she said in July.
Meanwhile, the squad announced by the NFF includes reigning African footballer of the year Asisat Oshoala, veteran defender Onome Ebi, former USA youth international Toni Payne and US-born Patricia George.
The continent’s most successful national side with nine African titles will depart Nigeria on 15 February for the fifth edition of the Turkish Cup tournament.
Nigeria will face Uzbekistan in their opening game before facing fellow Africans Equatorial Guinea at the tournament, they had also been due to take on Zambia, who have now withdrawn from the event.