Super Falcons: Is new PSG signing Echegini Nigeria’s 2024 Olympics joker?

The Super Falcons, Nigeria’s women’s national football team, are preparing for their group stage matches in the summer Olympics in Paris.

Currently training in Seville, Spain, the team is gearing up for tough clashes against Brazil, Spain, and Japan.

The preparation for the Olympics did not begin smoothly. Just before the squad announcement, there were controversies surrounding allegations of players being imposed on Nigeria coach, Randy Waldrum.

Super Falcons: Is imminent PSG signing Jennifer Echegini Nigeria's 2024 Olympics joker?
Photo by NFF media

Although Onome Ebi and Francesca Ordega, whose names were prominently mentioned, denied the allegations, the issue overshadowed much of the team’s preparations.

Shortly after the squad was announced, reliable midfielder Halimatu Ayinde had to withdraw from the Olympics due to injury, adding to a week of controversies. However, the players have since resumed training and are focusing on the task ahead.

Jennifer Echegini: A rising star

One positive development for Randy Waldrum is the rapid progress of new Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) star Jennifer Echegini.

Though not yet a regular starter for the team, Echegini is seen as the next big thing for the Super Falcons.

Super Falcons: Is imminent PSG signing Jennifer Echegini Nigeria's 2024 Olympics joker?
Photo by Juventus Women

She was part of the Super Falcons squad that impressed at the FIFA Women's World Cup in Australia and New Zealand last year, and has parlayed an impressive six months with Italian side Juventus into a big move to the French giants and UEFA Champions League semi-finalists.

Echegini’s influence has been gradual yet effective, and she continues to grow both at the club level and with the national team.

The Super Falcons have a history of producing great midfielders, including Florence Omagbemi, Rita Nwadike, the late Ifeanyi Chiejine, Prisca Emeafu, Judith Chime, and Maureen Madu.

At the last World Cup, Deborah Abiodun emerged as a breakout star, showing flashes of brilliance before being sent off in the game against Canada. Since then, she has become a key player for the team, and it appears Echegini will be Randy Waldrum’s joker in this squad.

Who is Jennifer Echegini?

Born in 2001 in the Netherlands and raised in London, United Kingdom, Jennifer Echegini, also known as ‘Onyi,’ studied at Florida State University, where she played for the college team before moving to Juventus in January 2024.

Super Falcons: Is imminent PSG signing Jennifer Echegini Nigeria's 2024 Olympics joker?
Photo by Juventus

At Juventus, she proved to be a valuable asset, scoring 10 goals and providing one assist in 840 minutes.

She became the first Nigerian to play for Juventus Women’s team, winning the Juventus Women’s Player of the Season award and the eBay MVP as the best Under-23 player in the women’s Serie A.

Her performance caught the attention of 2021 Premiere Ligue champions Paris Saint Germain, who announced her signing on Wednesday.

Super Falcons adventure for Echegini

Echegini, who is comfortable going forward, was scouted for the Falcons by Randy Waldrum while still playing collegiate football at Florida State University.

She scored her first goal for Nigeria in an international friendly against New Zealand in April 2023, as the Falcons defeated the Oceania team 3-0.

Echegini was also part of the Super Falcons impressive run at the last FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand and also played a role as Nigeria beat Cape Verde, Cameroon, and South Africa on their way to qualifying for the Paris Olympics.

Super Falcons: Is imminent PSG signing Jennifer Echegini Nigeria's 2024 Olympics joker?
Photo by Icon Sport

At 23 years old, Echegini is fast becoming one of Nigeria’s brightest young talents in women’s football.

After a fantastic debut season in Italy, it is expected that she will have a breakout year with the Falcons at the Olympics.

She possesses an incredible range of qualities, able to play in various midfield roles and has a keen eye for goals either playing deep in the midfield or in  offensive areas.

Given Echegini’s impressive season and accelerated development over the past 10 months, it would not be surprising if she turns out to be the’ joker’ for the Super Falcons at the Paris Olympics later this month.

The Super Falcons’ journey to the Olympics has been challenging, but with promising talents like Jennifer Echegini and a determined squad, they are poised to make a significant impact in Paris, which interestingly is her new home.

Super Falcons: Is new PSG signing Echegini Nigeria’s 2024 Olympics joker?
Andrew Randa

Andrew Randa is a veteran Nigerian sports journalist with over 20 years of experience covering the beautiful game across Africa. Andrew served as a Media Officer for Nigeria's U-20 Men's National Team for three years, offering a unique perspective on the future stars of Nigerian football.

Beyond reporting, Andrew is a pioneer in sports graphics creation within Nigeria. His expertise extends to sports kit design, making him a true multi-faceted talent in the African sports landscape.

Andrew's experience is vast, with collaborations encompassing prestigious names like Kickoff, SuperSport, the NFF (Nigeria Football Federation), and the NPFL (Nigeria Professional Football League)