Nigeria forward Desire Oparanozie is easily one of the most famous and recognisable female footballers in Africa and goes into the 2019 Women’s World Cup in France this month as one of the faces of the Super Falcons.
The power playing forward has a glorious résumé. She played the FIFA Women’s World Cup tournaments of 2011 and 2015. As a junior international she scored 2 goals in the 2010 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup and 3 goals in the 2012 tournament.
Oparanozie was also part of the Nigerian squads of the African Women’s Championship of 2010 and 2014, 2016 and 2018 winning the four tournaments and scoring a free kick in the 2014 final.
Her reputation is such that she has netted 38 goals for the Super Falcons since 2010.
In reality, the 25-year-old still has something left to prove on this, the biggest global stage, because she’s never really ‘done it’ in her two previous attempts.
What’s more, 2019 is the first World Cup in which Oparanozie was made captain for her country in France.
In 2011, she was a rookie on the Super Falcons roster and the pressure was on more established stars like Perpetua Nkwocha, Stella Mbachu and Onome Ebi to perform. As such, Oparanozie made three starts and accumulated 246 minutes.
Oparanozie did play a pivotal role at the 2012 U20 World Cup. Her three goals helped Nigeria to the semifinals.
By the time of the 2015 World Cup, Oparanozie was much more established. She had a below average tournament and even accounted for an own goal.
Without Perpetua Nkwocha, retired since 2015, and Lloyd, no longer starting as regularly at 36, as the main focus, Oparanozie now takes centre stage at a World Cup for the first time.
Four years ago she was part of the team, but, unable to perform at her best, something was missing. She also may have something to prove in France as well. It’s a familiar terrain as she is on the books of French Feminine Division One outfit En Avant Guingamp, a club she has scored 50 goals for in 101 appearances.
These days she has a different role than in the past and that is why now is finally the time for Desire Oparanozie to step up and dominate a World Cup – her third World Cup – for the first time.