It has been an eventful year for Super Falcons defender Chidinma Okeke who made her FIFAWWC debut in France and also sealed a move to Madrid CFF of Spain from FC Robo, Lagos – Nigeria.
So www.ACLSports.com got talking to one of Nigeria’s teenage sensations who had a break out season this year but is currently recuperating from an knee injury sustained last month.
ⓜⓒⓕⓕ 🏥 PARTE MÉDICO
Nuestras jugadoras @MonicaHickmannA y OKEKE han sido intervenidas con éxito por el Doctor @drmanuelleyes en la @ClinicaCEMTRO de Madrid.
Toda la familia del @MadridCFF estará con vosotras en el camino hacía la recuperación 👊⚪️
¡¡ÁNIMO MONI & OKEKEI! 💪💪 pic.twitter.com/cy4I8SoCZw
— Madrid CFF (@MadridCFF) November 29, 2019
“It’s been a good year for me,” Okeke began as she reflected on her FIFAWWC debut in France. “At first I wasn’t expecting my name on the final list but I believed in God so I thank him for everything and his favor.
“My debut at the World Cup was a great experience. Playing with great players and the big names in Nigeria, gaining more experience was good for me and I thank God for it,” she said.
Super Falcons goalkeeper Chiamaka Nnadozie and defender Chidinma Okeke were two young players selected by head coach, Thomas Dennerby for the World Cup in France but to the amazement of Nigerians, these two grabbed their opportunity with both hands, eventually becoming a main stay in the team.
Speaking on where the inspiration and motivation for such commanding performance came from, the 19 year-old right-back said “The motivation for the performance came from my mum and my coach (FC Robo head coach), Emmanuel Osahon.
“Anything I do, I always remember her because she has been there for me and believes so much in me so anywhere I am I have it at the back of my mind that whatever I’m doing I do to make her happy. Same thing for my coach.
“In France, anytime I call him he encourages me and tells me not to give up. So he and my mum are my inspiration and motivation.”
Chidinma Okeke at FC Robo played as an attacker alongside Rasheedat Ajibade (who has now moved to Norway) and Monday Gift (another talented player growing through the ranks) but found herself playing as a centre-back at the 2018 U20 World Cup in France and as a right-back for the Super Falcons at the FIFAWWC. What is your preferred position ACLSports asked the Madrid CFF defender?
“Yes I used to strike with Rasheedat and Monday but played in defence at the U20 and Senior World Cup. But it is not new to me because coach Osahon used me in different positions. Now I play as a defender and see myself as that but if I’m called to play in attack its not a problem but I like the right full back position as I can always attack from there too.”
No doubt that her attacking quality was evident in the game against Korea where she made a beautiful assist for Asisat Oshoala’s goal and second of the game for the Super Falcons. and her performance at the World Cup has since earned her a deserved move to Madrid CFF where she now plays with top players around the world.
“It really means so much to me making my first move out of Nigeria to Spain playing for Madrid CFF; a completely different league. It’s a good thing and I’m really happy for myself, my family and coach Osahon of FC Robo.
“Playing in Spain has improved my game as it is completely different from the Nigerian league. It has improved my play and decision making. I’m learning more and my game generally has improved,” Okeke said.
For all the positives in 2019, there was one blight: Super Falcons’ ouster from the Tokyo 2020 Olympics Qualifers. And here’s what Okeke thinks went wrong in the two legged tie against Cote d’Ivoire.
“I don’t really know what happened but I’ll just say we didn’t utilize our chances in both legs despite playing well. But, we have to move on.
“We can’t stay and keep mourning that as there are so many more competitions ahead of us. Also I believe Nigeria will make it to the next Olympics. We didn’t lose woefully, we just didn’t utilize our chances and I’ll say we need to move on from that.”