INI UMOTONG dismissed a lack of World Cup match action and declared: I’m positive about my international future.
Umotong has told of her ‘incredible’ experience in Canada after receiving a surprise Nigeria call-up.
The Pompey Ladies striker failed to appear in any of the Super Falcons’ three matches, as they exited the competition at the group stage.
The African champions were pitted in the so-called group of death, alongside USA, Australia and Sweden – beginning their campaign with a thrilling 3-3 draw against the Swedes, before succumbing to two narrow defeats.
But far from feeling sorry for herself, Umotong has vowed to make good on coach Edwin Okon’s encouraging post-tournament assertion she is the future of the Falcons’ forward line.
And the 21-year-old is using Okon’s example of fellow striker, Francisca Ordega, as motivation to establish herself in the Nigeria line-up by the time the 2019 World Cup visits France.
Umotong said: ‘It (the World Cup) was incredible.
‘It was the best experience. I have learned and taken so much away from it.
‘At the beginning, when I found out I was going to be selected, it was all still quite a shock, but after a few days it settled in.
‘And from then on in I took in every moment and tried to make it last as long as possible.
‘In the end I was a little bit disappointed not to come on but I was just so thrilled to be there.
‘Even to make the squad was a huge achievement for me.’
Having sampled life on the big stage as a squad member, determined Umotong is now keen to go one step further and emulate the path trodden by inspirational team-mate Ordega, who has scored seven goals in 26 international appearances.
Umotong said: ‘The coach (Okon) was speaking to me afterwards and told me I was the future of the Falcons, which was great to hear.
‘We then talked a lot about Francisca Ordega, my fellow forward, who started every game for us in Canada.
‘At the last World Cup she was in exactly my position, she didn’t play one minute.
‘And this time out she started every game and scored against Sweden.
‘She is my motivation not to be down on myself. I look at her path and that is what I want to follow.
‘I am still very positive about my future with the Super Falcons.’
Student Umotong is now enjoying a well-earned break before returning to pre-season training refreshed and ready for action with Pompey Ladies.
And the prolific striker, who bagged 29 league and cup goals to help fire the Blues to the Premier League southern division title last term, has thanked fans in both England and Nigeria for their messages of support over the past month.
Umotong added: ‘All of the messages I got on Facebook and Instagram were appreciated, it was great to feel the support from our fans all over the world.’