Super Falcons’ blend of youth and experience could usher in a new era of success at the Paris Olympics

Super Falcons’ blend of youth and experience could usher in a new era of success at the Paris Olympics

A tense two-legged affair in which Rasheedat Ajibade’s penalty was the sole difference maker against South Africa would see the Super Falcons return to the Games for the first time since Beijing 2008.

It comes after a gutsy run at the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup seemed to re-light the fire under Africa’s most decorated football team.

Paris 2024 is a chance for them to build on recent progression, joining Group C alongside Spain, Japan, and Brazil.

Could a return to the global stage prompt a new era for the Super Falcons?

Nigeria may have bowed out at the round of 16 stage in the 2023 Women’s World Cup, but this time their exit felt different.

A tournament in which they gave it all was a mere sign of what could be on the horizon.

Getting out of a group consisting of Olympic gold medallists Canada, hosts Australia, and debutants Republic of Ireland was always a tough ask - but it began with a bang.

 The African nation held the Canadians to a 0-0 draw with backs to the wall defending - their opponents eventually falling at the hands of a shock group-stage curtain call.

With the force of Australia against them, Nigeria knew they had to go for it and that is what they did.

A goal behind, Uchenna Kanu levelled things in first-half stoppage time before goals from Osinachi Ohale and Asisat Oshoala in the second half set them on their way.

The Aussies pulled one back in injury time, but they held on to win 3-2 despite an opposition onslaught that would see them concede 28 shots, 8 of which were on target.

Safe passage to the knockout rounds was confirmed with a draw against the Republic of Ireland, marking the first time this resilient side reached this stage since the 1999 edition of the tournament.

England would be where Nigeria fell, but not for lack of trying. They pushed the eventual finalists all the way and came agonisingly close, but were bested by the Lionesses 4-2 on penalties.

It was a showing not only to be proud of but also to build on.

Nigeria can rely on a blend of youth and experience to help them usher in a potential new era of success. Last summer was evidence of that.


Asisat Oshoala is undoubtedly the star name, the 29-year-old having bagged 37 goals in over 60 appearances for her national team.

As well as a proven goal scorer, she is a bonafide winner. A five-year stint at FC Barcelona saw her crowned Premier División champion on four occasions, a two-time UEFA Champions League winner, and a plethora of other medals to her name.

It is the kind of pedigree that is invaluable to a team, including the Super Falcons.

Her experience will prove vital for the development of young forwards like Gift Monday, who plays football in Spain.

Five goals and one assist in the league for UD Tenerife is promising for the 22-year-old, who could follow in the footsteps of the veteran striker.

In midfield, Christy Ucheibe was particularly impressed at Australia & New Zealand 2023. Despite being 22 at the time, she was a leader in the middle as Nigeria clinched a crucial point against Olympic champions Canada.

Defensively, fullbacks Ashleigh Plumptre and Michelle Alozie had their breakout moments last year, 25 and 26 respectively, the best is still yet to come.

Between the sticks is 23-year-old Chiamaka Nnadozie who is undoubtedly in the conversation as one of the best goalkeepers in the game right now.

And then, of course, there’s Ajibade, who has proven to be a worthy captain to lead the Super Falcons forward, evident when converting the penalty that eventually booked their spot at the Olympics.

This current crop of Nigerian players is overflowing with talent - it feels like a matter of time before they push for world titles.

Paris 2024 could very well be the event to kickstart that.