Nigeria coach Thomas Dennerby says he left Ini Umotong out of his Women’s World Cup squad in favour of selecting Uchenna Kanu.
Umotong has been part of Nigeria’s setup since January, but was pipped to a spot in the squad by the American-based forward, who joined the team in during a training camp in Spain in April.
Kanu, who scored 10 goals in five games at the Wafu Women’s Cup in Cote d’Ivoire two weeks ago, was one of the four strikers named in the final 23-player list for the tournament next month.
After squad announcement, football fans have been critical of the Swede’s decision to leave out the Brighton forward, accusing him of favouring home-based professionals over foreign-based stars.
But the 59-year-old coach, who spoke highly of England-based star, explained his reasons for eventually deciding to drop her.
“It’s always tough to take that final decision because if anyone will have to select the squad, they may have picked at least 15 players same like us,” Dennerby told Goal.
“We picked six centre-back players we can use in the centre areas, six midfielders, four wingers and four forwards. The four forwards were Asisat Oshoala, Francisca Ordega, Desire Oparanozie and Uchenna Kanu.
“It was really a tough decision because Ini has improved a lot and also has been working hard. We’re are extremely proud by the effort she made to be one of the four forwards to go to the World Cup.
“We’re really had tough competitions in that department and we think Uchenna and the rest already knew top forwards were those we could take to the tournament.
“It’s a tough competition in all the departments which is always good for the coach because it shows you have a good team.
“If you don’t have to make any tough decision, then the squad is not good enough. I am happy about that we are taking these tough calls as we can only go with 23 players to the World Cup.
“In some way, it’s easy when you have to pick the 23 players that were most ready based on their performances in previous camps.
“When it was done after a couple of hours with the best technical staff, we were all satisfied with those selected.”
The Super Falcons will face an All-Star team in a friendly at the Avita Resort pitch on Tuesday afternoon.
They will depart Austria on Tuesday, June 4 for Reims, where they will play their first match against Norway.