‘A blessing to be here’ – Ex-USA youth international Payne proud of Nigeria call-up

The defender is thrilled with the prospect of representing the Super Falcons despite playing for the Stars and Stripes at youth level

Nicole Payne is excited to be invited to Nigeria’s squad for June’s summer series tour in the United States of America.

Initially, the West Virginia University star was not part of the Super Falcons’ 25-player squad for the tournament billed from June 7-17.

However, the withdrawal of star players Patricia George and Osinachi Ohale saw coach Randy Waldrum hand the defender a late call-up.

Despite representing America at U20, U18, U17, U15 and U14 levels, she is poised to make her international bow when Nigeria take on Jamaica on Thursday night at the BBVA Stadium, Houston, Texas.

While expressing her delight with the invitation, Payne revealed that she never expected it to come few months after her elder sister Toni made her Falcons debut in February during the Turkish Women’s Cup.

“I was very excited to get the call-up, I’m very excited to be able to compete with the players that are here,” she said on Super Falcons’ Instagram handle.

“I never believed I would get my call-up so soon, but again, it’s a blessing to be here and be able to play with my sister.”

The 20-year-old gave an assessment of the African side after training with them for the first time while hoping to impress against the Reggae Girlz if dressed for action.

“Having trained with them this morning, it was great, it was a very competitive environment, the players are quick and fast,” she continued.

“It was very good to be able to know the girls and be able to play with everybody and prepare for these games.

“I’m gonna go out there and try my best and represent the country.”

After the game against Jamaica, the 11-time African queens slug it out with European side Portugal four days later.

Nigeria’s last game will be against Vlatko Andonovski’s ladies on Thursday, June 17 at the Q2 Stadium in Austin, Texas.

With the beginning of the 2022 Awcon qualification campaign on the horizon in October, these games will be a useful exercise in determining who merits further inclusion against Ghana.

The team walloped Equatorial Guinea 9-0 in their last international outing on February 23.

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