Portsmouth’s Ini Umotong has made a scoring start to life with the Nigerian national team.
The 21-goal striker, currently at Nigeria’s training camp, preparing for the World Cup and their Olympic and All-Africa Games qualifiers, came on for 20 minutes in a warm-up match for the national side against one of the country’s top women’s clubs, Confluence Queens.
And inevitably, she found the net.
Umotong, 20, told Sent Her Forward: “It was in a friendly in preparation for the upcoming fixtures, against Confluence Queens, who play in the highest league in Nigeria. I played the last 15 or 20 minutes and scored.”
It was Nigeria head coach Edwin Okon’s first opportunity to see Umotong – who was born in the country but has not lived there since she was one – in action.
Tough World Cup group
He is assessing the 36 players at his disposal before reducing the squad ahead of the World Cup finals, which begin on June 6. Nigeria are due to play Mali in a two-leg qualifying match for the All-Africa Games next Sunday, with the return three weeks later.
The two nations are also due to meet in an Olympic Games qualifier in early May, and Okon will need to finalise his squad for the World Cup in Canada shortly.
The team, known as the Super Falcons, are drawn in a tough World Cup group which also includes Australia, Sweden and the United States.
Umotong joined the training camp in Abuja two weeks late so that she could play in Portsmouth’s League Cup semi-final against Sheffield and FA Cup fourth-round tie against Millwall Lionesses, both of which they lost.
She flew to Nigeria on March 10, and was due to stay there for two weeks, although her availability to Portsmouth may depend on whether she is selected for some of the qualifiers.