How BBC Award ‘Swallowed’ Oshoala In Canada

igeria’s Asisat Oshoala (left) brings down USA’s defender, Julie Johnston, during their final Group C match in Vancouver.								 PHOTO: AFP

igeria’s Asisat Oshoala (left) brings down USA’s defender, Julie Johnston, during their final Group C match in Vancouver. PHOTO: AFP

Super Falcons and Liverpool Ladies’ FC forward, Asisat Oshoala, was one of the most hyped players in the countdown to the on-going FIFA Women’s World in Canada. Oshoala, 20, is a girl of many titles, but her emergence as the BBC Women’s Player of the Year a few weeks ago, where she beat Spain’s Veronica Boquete, Germany’s Nadine Kessler, Scotland’s Kim Little and Brazil’s magic woman, Marta, to the coveted award, made her the torch bearer when pundits were talking of the player to watch out for in the World Cup.
Ordinarily, such a big award in days leading to the FIFA World Cup should have been a major inspiration for a player, but ‘the reverse’ was the case for Oshoala.

“Shortly after the BBC award was announced, we noticed that Oshoala was behaving somehow,” a top official of the Nigerian team told The Guardian a few minutes after the Falcons were bundled out of the World Cup.

Nigeria was sent out of the competition on Tuesday after losing their last group game 0-1 to USA in Vancouver.

“She even went on twitter to say that she does not know what was happening to her. Oshoala became so depressed,” the official said.
Oshoala signed for Liverpool Ladies early this year to become the first African footballer to join the English FA Women’s Super League. It was a story that was celebrated all over Africa and beyond.
The Ikorodu-born striker is rich with awards and accolades. From winning the golden boot and player of the tournament at the last FIFA U-20 World Cup, Oshoala emerged as best player at the 2014 AWC in Namibia, where she helped the Falcons to lift the title for the seventh time. She was named Africa’s Player of the Year earlier this year at the Glo-CAF Award ceremony in Lagos. The BBC World Footballer of the Year award came in the tick of her preparations for the World Cup.
According to the official, when it became clear that Oshoala was suffering from depression after the BBC award, the sports psychologist attached to the Super Falcons, Kasia Muoto, was detailed to the player (Oshoala).

“The psychologist was with her 24/7 and even other officials, including our leader of delegation (Mrs. Dilichukwu Onyedima) spent time with Oshoala, taking to her not to allow the weight of the BBC Award depress her. But she kept saying that the focus on her was becoming too much. I am sure she is yet to overcome the depression because Oshoala didn’t really perform to expectation in this World Cup. This is not the Oshoala we used to know,” the official said.
From her days as a junior player, Oshoala has been known to be a goal getter. With her bundles of skill, talents and ability to work with her teammates at any given time, Oshoala was the cynosure of all eyes at the African Women Championship in Namibia, where she played with senior players at the top level for the first time.
Oshoala hads built herself into a brand of a ferocious and prolific striker even before her graduation to the senior team. She is not the type who shivers in front of defenders. Overtime, Oshoala has proven her worth as nightmare, tormentor and destroyer of defenders and goalkeepers following her ability to find the back of the net, even in tight situations.
But in Canada, the savvy, strong and black Oshaola was found wanting. “After we came from behind to draw 3-3 with Sweden, we were all expecting the team to go all out and finish Australia in our second group game. We actually relied so much on Oshoala to prove her worth upfront, but that was not to be,” the official said.
“The Oshoala we used to know would rubbish those Australian defenders. On a good day, she would have used that game to announce herself in the competition, but she played as if nothing was at stake. At a point, I began to ask myself if it was the same Oshoala that was playing on the pitch. There was no cohesion in her movement and those amazing skills were nowhere to be found. I won’t blame her much because she is still very young. She may have allowed depression overcome her in this World Cup,” the official said.
In the match against Australia, which the Falcons lost 0-2, Oshoala operated from the line. When it became so clear that her effort was not yielding the needed dividend, Coach Edwin Okon decided to replace her.
At the end of the match, some other officials criticised the coach of playing Oshoala out of her usual role of supportive striker. They pointed out that Oshoala gets tired so easily, and running the lines would make her burn her energy so quickly.
In the last match against USA in Vancouver, Oshoala was moved from the line to the middle of the attack. It yielded no fruit either.
Oshoala was not in the mood to speak after the team’s elimination from the World Cup.
However, the team’s leader of delegation to Canada, NFF board member and chairperson, Women Football Committee, Dilichukwu Onyedima, told The Guardian that she noticed some funny attitude in Oshoala before the commencement of the World Cup, and that she called the player for private talks on few occasions.
“The team psychologists really worked on her. I also called her for private talk, where I advised her to focus her energy on the World Cup and forget the attention she is getting from people. I even told her to call her parents to pray for her because I felt that prayer from parents has a great impact on a child. But let us not put all the blames on Oshoala for our inability to do well in this World Cup.
“The NFF actually gave this team the financial and moral support they needed to do well. But that is one of the things in football. We will go back and plan for the future,” Onyedimma said.
With the Falcons’ exit in the group stage, Nigeria 16-year World Cup jinx of not qualifying from the group stage continues.

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  • Chris Okrikportor

    Before now I blamed the failure of the team on her lackadaisical attitude in field of play. Without mincing words, Oshoala got overwhelmed with the BBC Award. She couldn’t handle the trimmings and trippings that goes with it. Too bad. The Award took a greater toll on her. It took the psychologist time to notice this. So their impact was not enough to stabilize her mental focus. All the same, I think we should go back to the drawing board even if some cynics will say the board is already full.

  • global

    I watched her, and she tried. The question I would want the officials to answer is this, what effort did the officials put to make sure other players who may have been dwarf by her achievement, accept her, avoiding jealousy? As I watch the team, I saw a team not coordinated with individuals playiny to prove self point. Some players will say is it not when I give him ball that she will shine. Individual does not become a star by him/herself. It is the team that tunes a talent to a star. When the team fails to support a star he will not perform well.

    • akeebaba


    • cjnwogu

      The game against Sweden was the determinant, the Nigerian team had the
      capacity when they equalized to go on and finish Sweden but the coach
      and the players showed no inclination and purposefulness to do this. Achieving a goal (winning) is a team collective action. Our coaches should know how to sink this into the national teams and players. When teams go far in a tournament, the individual players contributions are then noticed but when they don’t, it is difficult to pick them out. This is the reason why Brazil has the highest number of players in the best football playing Nation’s professional clubs. The players should be made to realize the collective objective of achieving this ‘ winning aim’ and the denominator is how far have you gone during encounters like World cups and other major international competitions. The further you go, the more you create psychological phobia on your opponents, the more the scouts have the capacity to analyze, know your capability and even go to recruit you. To achieve this, you need to avoid an atmosphere of acrimony and animosity which creates a team that only make the number playing without purpose, this is detrimental. Period.

  • Perrymarvis2014

    she was overwhelmed plus the tactical blunders from her coach did not help matters. She will be better in four years time. she has age on her side and is a good player. Same thing happened at the under 20 in New Zealand. They will come right because they are already in Europe, the environment will make them to work hard or loose all they are expected to gain.