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Exclusive: How Arsenal striker Oshoala was discovered

03 January 2017, 17:20Israel Ojoko

Lagos - Arsenal Ladies striker Asisat Oshoala is one of the best contemporary female footballers in the world.

She was named best player and with seven goals was also the top goal scorer at the 2014 FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup. She was also named best player and second top goalscorer with the Super Falcons team who won the 2014 African Women's Championship (AWCON).

She also won the BBC Women's Footballer of the Year 2015.

In September 2014 Oshoala was made a Member of the Order of the Niger by then President of Nigeria Goodluck Jonathan. On 8 June 2015 in Winnipeg, Canada, Oshoala opened her senior FIFA Women's World Cup account by scoring Nigeria's second goal in a 3–3 draw with Sweden.

She also stood out in the just concluded 2016 AWCON won by the Super Falcons.

After beginning her football journey at FC Robo at age 13, the Ikorodu breed did not stop ever since.

On 23 January 2015, Oshoala joined Liverpool Ladies from Nigeria’s Rivers Angels where she spent two seasons, 2013-2015.

Oshoala missed two months of the 2015 season with a knee injury, as defending champions Liverpool finished seventh of eight teams. In January 2016 Liverpool reported that a transfer bid from Arsenal Ladies had activated the release clause in Oshoala's contract. She went on to score on her debut for Arsenal in a 3-1 win against Reading Ladies in the opening day of the FA Women’s Super League.

Oshoala is also playing her part in giving back to the society with her annual U17 tournament. The second edition was concluded on December 26 in Lagos.

She has made so much successes that going back memory lane has now seem less-important.

But news24’s Israel Ojoko met with the man - Emmanuel Osahan Orobosa (CEO and chief coach of FC Robo) - who discovered the player from the streets of Ikorodu, a major town in Lagos. He takes us many years back when Oshoala, now 22, was just 13 years old, in this exclusive interview.

Kindly tell us a brief history of how it all started: I met Asisat nine years ago somewhere in the National Stadium in Lagos where we were playing a competition called C. Woermann football tournament.

She played for a team we defeated 3-0, she really tried in the game, and I called her and asked ‘do you want to play for FC Robo?’ she said yes. But she was later dodging me, I became persistent because what I saw in her then, I know with the kind of training we have at FC Robo, she will come to limelight within four years, and I give God the glory today.

What did you see in her?: I saw her physic, she looked very athletic, but all we needed to do was put the right training. If you watch FC Robo players like Aminat Yakubu, like Rashidat Ajibade, they have speed, these are my products. There is something I know about women’s football: if you can run and control the ball, you are there.

What has been her progress since joining FC Robo?: From my team, after five years she went to Rivers Angels where she spent one and half seasons, after then she joined Liverpool Ladies and now Arsenal Ladies.

How was she able to manage her education and playing football?: There was problem when she wanted to register at the Surulere campus of Lagos State Polytechnic (LASPOTECH), the parents were so adamant that they didn’t want her to play football, we have to call (Paul Ebiye) Hamilton, pray, even Asisat and I had prayer sessions for God to touch the hearts of her parents.

Nine years ago, she was 13, how was it easy for her to play football, school and her parents…. Cuts in She was going to school then, when she closes she comes to meet me, I always have time and most of my players are educated, most of them are either graduates of Yaba College of Technology or LASPOTECH, and I have an alliance with the coaches there, they are my good friends, I know how to talk to them and they know how to package and accommodate my players. I have people up there who understand that I like players to go to school and play football.

In terms of focus and commitment, how would you describe Asisat?: She is a kind of person that If she did not score a goal even in training, she will not eat, you can see it in her.

From the time she left FC Robo to Rivers Angels and then Liverpool and now Arsenal, how much have you been of a motivation to her?: If she plays and I watch her game, any flaws I see, when she comes home, I work on it. If she complains of anything I work on it.

Did she always seek advice from you before taking a decision like joining a club?: Yes, before she joined Liverpool I was aware, when she has joined Arsenal that’s when I was aware, you know these players are getting bigger.

Her time at Liverpool was short before she joined Arsenal, did she tell you why?: I don’t know, she just told me to thank God that she is in Arsenal.

Was Arsenal her dream club?: I don’t think so, Asisat is an ambitious girl, but she’s not in a rush. That’s how I train most of my girls, just like Rashidat Ajibade who has played three World Cups, by now she’s supposed to be running to one big club. But I told her she still needs some certain things before going.

Where was she first discovered into the Nigeria national team?: In my team. We were playing league against Rivers Angels, and at the time, the coach of Rivers Angels was the national team coach, and he said ‘I need this girl in my team’ and I said ‘bye bye’.

So how does it make you feel today?: I feel fulfilled and appreciated. There are still more players coming from the team because her exit gave birth to more players.

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- News24 Nigeria

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