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Ifeoma Onumonu, Nicole Payne and Yewande Balogun earn late call-ups as Super Falcons camp bubbles in Houston

Nigeria women’s head coach Randy Waldrum has handed maiden Nigeria call-ups to Ifeoma Onumonu, Nicole Payne and Yewande Balogun for this week’s US Women’s Summer Series in Houston, Texas.

The three foreign-born players become the latest to join the Super Falcons squad for the first time, having saw two arrivals of Swiss-Nigerian born defender Onyinyechi Zogg and Finnish-Nigerian born striker Roosa Funmilayo Ariyo for the four-nation tournament.

Due to logistics reasons and injuries, Waldrum will miss six key players – SC Sand defender Patricia George, Linkopings striker Uchenna Kanu, Paris goalkeeper Chiamaka Nnadozie and Eskilstuna United midfielder duo of Halimatu Ayinde, Ngozi Okobi-Okeoghene and Madrid CFF defender Osinachi Ohale from his initial 25-player squad.

Despite born in Carlifonia, Onumonu, who is NWSL outfit Gotham striker, has represented the United States at the U23 level but is still eligible to play for Nigeria through her parents.

American born West Virginia University right back Nicole, who was born to the soccer family of Oyeleke and Mojemilat Payne, is the younger sister of recently capped Nigeria striker Toni.

For Balogun, who is in her third season as UC Davis assistant coach, was former Maryland Terrapin goalkeeper and is eligible to represent Nigeria through her father Tajudeen Balogun.

The five new players will hope to make a good impression on Waldrum in the upcoming games to boost their chances of earning a second call-up when the Super Falcons return for Afcon women’s qualifying assignments in October.

Meanwhile, the Super Falcons delegation which traveled from Lagos on Monday made up 10 players arrived in Houston en route Atlanta, joining six already in camp – Francisca Ordega, Balogun, Onumonum, Nicole and Toni Payne, to increase the number of players at Marriot Marquis to 16.

Still expected are six players namely Atletico Madrid’s Rasheedat Ajibade, Pozoalbense’s Tochukwu Oluehi, Madrid CFF duo Chidinma Okeke, Rita Chikwelu, Eibar’s Charity Adule and Barcelona’s Asisat Oshoala all from Spain on Wednesday afternoon to complete 22 players.

With the 16 in camp, Waldrum will commence training session on Wednesday morning ahead of their opener against Jamaica at BBVA Stadium in Houston on 10 June.

They will followed by a meeting with Portugal three days later at the same venue before facing World Cup holders the US women’s team (USWNT) on June 16 in the four-team event competition.

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