After missing out on selection at youth level, the 21-year-old is optimistic about building on her international chance with the Super Falcons
Ramat Abdulkareem is convinced the Turkish Women’s Cup will not be her last international experience for the Nigeria senior women’s national team.
The 21-year-old was handed her first Nigeria call-up late, following the withdrawal of midfield duo Christy Ucheibe and Ngozi Okobi-Okeoghene from the squad.
The Adana Idmanyurduspor star was handed her international debut against Equatorial Guinea and went on to provide an assist in the 9-0 win as they secured the title in Antalya.
While reflecting on her first-ever international experience, she remains confident that she can continue to improve on her performances to enjoy more appearances in the Nigeria shirt in future.
“It was a huge career breakthrough and unforgettable moment for me to play for the Super Falcons,” Abdulkareem told Goal.
“At the moment, I am going to put myself under any pressure. I understand very much well what it means to play at this level and need to keep working hard for this is just a stepping stone for me.
“I cannot thank enough coach Randy Waldrum for this opportunity and I am very determined to do my best to make sure the outing in Turkey won’t be my last experience with the Super Falcons.”
Before moving to Turkey in 2019, the midfielder had played for Nasarawa Amazons, Abia Angels, Adamawa Queens and Confluence Queens.
Despite earning call-ups for the Costa Rica 2014 U17 Women’s World Cup and Papua New Guinea 2016 U20 Women’s World Cup, she did not make the final cut to play for the country.
Having turned out for the senior team, she cannot find the right words to describe what it’s like to earn a call-up and eventually play for the reigning African champions.
Well nothing can be compared to the feeling I had, I was unable to sleep at night because I had thought it was a mare dream,” she continued.
“It was heartbreaking when I couldn’t play at the age-grade World Cups even after being part of all the qualifiers then but to be involved at the senior level has mended my broken heart.”
After her senior debut, Abdulkareem, who was born in Okene but raised in Kaduna from age six, became the first Ebira woman from the ethnolinguistic group of central Nigeria to play for the Super Falcons.
Recounting the profile boost that had accompanied her call-up and eventual maiden appearance, she said: “It was so overwhelming, the love and excitement were so massive.
“It has brought me a lot of fame and I have been recognized by many people, I’m so excited about how everything has turned out to be.”
Before her call-up, Abdulkareem had last played competitive football last June, following the Turkish league’s cancellation due to the Covid-19 outbreak, scoring twice in four games.
Despite her seven-month-long inactivity, the one-cap Super Falcons, who enjoyed an impactful debut, admits she was not at her best.
“I was not having any fear going to the camp, although being out of play for awhile actually affect my game, I still thank God for everything,” he recounted.
“The reception in the Super Falcons was great, the old players were so accommodating, I felt so comfortable and relaxed.
“Making my debut was an unforgettable moment for me, but talking about my performance, I feel I didn’t well at all and will rate myself 3/10.”