Photo By Oscar J. Barroso/Europa Press via Getty Images.
Nigeria Summons Former England Starlet Rinsola Babajide for 2024 Olympics Qualifiers
Rinsola Babajide, the former England youth sensation, receives a call-up from Nigeria for the 2024 Women's Olympic Football qualifier, bringing dynamic talent to the Super Falcons' campaign.
Former England U23 international Rinsola Babajide shared her gratitude for the love and support she received upon her selection to Nigeria's squad for the 2024 Women's Olympic Football qualifier against Ethiopia. Babajide is among the 22 players meticulously chosen by the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) for this pivotal two-legged encounter scheduled for October 23 and 31.
Born to Nigerian immigrant parents, Babajide was faced with the pivotal decision of representing either England or Nigeria on the international stage. Her exceptional talents came to the fore in 2016, netting 14 goals for the University of East London women's football team in a friendly match against the University College London women's football team, culminating in a 40-0 scoreline.
Renowned for her blistering speed on the wing, Babajide was instrumental in England's achievement of a bronze medal at the 2018 FIFA Under 20 Women's World Cup. Her remarkable performances with Liverpool earned her a coveted call-up to the England Women's training camp, after being crowned the Reds' Player of the Season for 2019/2020.
Despite her accomplishments, Babajide's opportunities dwindled as Liverpool suffered relegation from the WSL. The London-born star sought a move in 2021 to bolster her chances of representing the Lionesses. Her determination led her to play for the U23 side as recently as April 2022.
Ultimately, she found a new home with Brighton and Hove Albion before making a move to Spain, where she spent 18 months with Real Betis, culminating in her recent transfer to UD Tenerife. Her addition promises to inject additional speed and competition into the Super Falcons' forward line.
While Babajide's inaugural call-up dominates the headlines, a significant omission has gone somewhat unnoticed. Captain Onome Ebi has been left out of the squad, along with her fellow U.K.-born and raised defender Ashleigh Plumptre, who played a pivotal role for Nigeria in the round of 16 against England in the World Cup, and the rising star Deborah Abiodun.
Ebi, aged 40, was widely expected to announce her retirement following the last FIFA Women's World Cup, where she joined an elite group of players who have appeared in at least six World Cups. However, her retirement announcement did not materialize, and she was named in the squad to face São Tomé e Principe in the qualifiers for the 2024 Women's Africa Cup of Nations. Unfortunately, that fixture was canceled due to the opposition's withdrawal.
Although the NFF's announcement remained discreet about Ebi's exclusion, insiders suggest that she is being gently encouraged to formalize her retirement.
Meanwhile, the team's coaching situation remains in limbo, with no definitive resolution since the NFF's announcement in September regarding discussions with Randy Waldrum about renewing his contract. The lack of clarity raises questions about who will lead the team as Nigeria strives to secure a spot in the Olympic Games once more. The Super Falcons previously participated in the first three Olympic tournaments in 2000, 2004, and 2008 but have faced hurdles in subsequent years.
Former England U20 forward Rinsola Babajide's maiden call-up to Nigeria's Senior Women National Team, the Super Falcons, marks an exciting turning point in her international career. Babajide, now 25 and playing for UG Tenerife, previously represented England at the Under 21 level before expressing her desire to represent Nigeria on the senior stage. Her switch to the Nigerian team follows in the footsteps of Ashleigh Plumptre, adding depth and talent to the squad.
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