****Asisat Oshoala has had a pretty spectacular 12 months by anyone’s standards. The Ikorodu native took home both the adidas Golden Ball and the Golden Boot at the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup Canada 2014 en route to a second-place finish with the Super Falconets in August of last year; while just last week she scored in her senior Women’s World Cup debut.
In between those feats, ‘Superzee’, as she is known by her team-mates, signed for Liverpool and earned the BBC’s Women’s Footballer of the Year Award, while also picking up the CAF young and senior player prizes. Add in becoming a Member of the Order of the Niger, an honour bestowed upon the 20-year-old by her nation’s president and it would be safe to assume that Oshoala is content with how things are going at the moment!
And you would be wrong. Despite all of the accolades she has recently earned and the attention she has received from all corners of the planet, Nigeria’s No8 has been finding it difficult to enjoy herself during her first Women’s World Cup so far. That is not to say Canada 2015 has yet to be a worthwhile experience for the young starlet, though.
“I have learned a lot of things about myself as a player,” Oshoala told FIFA.com after her team’s 2-0 loss to Australia. At times during the U-20 Women’s World Cup last summer it seemed almost impossibly easy for Oshoala to find the back of the net. But as the young starlet quickly pointed out, that is simply not the case at Canada 2015.
“This is a big tournament with much stronger competition. When you play at the under-age tournament, and then you come to the senior World Cup, you see it’s much harder. So, you just have to adapt to it.
“My style of play can’t always be the same. I need to find different ways to change my attacking patterns so I can get behind the backline.”
Triple threat That is a lesson Oshoala duly learned after the Super Falcons’ loss to Australia, where she and her fellow forwards rarely threatened the Matildas’ goal. After a wildly entertaining 3-3 draw where Oshoala scored Nigeria’s second and presented herself as a constant threat to Sweden, the No8 found herself frustrated against Australia.
“I would say Sweden actually made it very hard for us,” explained Oshoala. “Australia I think were an easier opponent. We were unlucky not to get the goals we needed. But it doesn’t matter; we have to be better, no matter what.”
If coach Edwin Okon can get his front three - Oshoala is usually featured up top alongside the talents of Desire Oparanozie and Ngozi Okobi – firing on all cylinders in time for Tuesday’s big test against a tough USA side, the Super Falcons may just be able to soar into the knockout stages, something Nigeria have only done once before, at USA 1999.
Oshoala believes she and her team-mates have what it takes to reach the Round of 16, and as she explains with a smile on her face she would like to emulate the style of a certain attacking trio known the world over.
“I want us to play like Real Madrid’s forwards!” Oshoala says through her laughter. “They’re very, very good, Benzema, Ronaldo and Gareth Bale.
“We can be similar to them and I’d like us to play just like them as much as possible. As a front three we can be very dangerous and if we try to be like them, we’ll go very far in this tournament!"