Though she may well be sharing a common cause with Matildas Claire Polkinghorne and Mackenzie Arnold when she runs out alongside them to take on Melbourne City at AAMI Park on Friday night, Brisbane Roar’s Chioma Ubogagu could find herself plotting their downfall come June.
Born in London, Ubogagu moved to Texas as a child and, as well as completing a collegiate football career at the University of Stanford, represented the United States at a U18, U20 and U23 level.
Though she then continued to impress with Arsenal, Houston Dash and current American side Orland Pride in the professional ranks, a call up to the United States’ senior side in October of 2017 failed to result in breaking through for her first ever senior cap.
The slight, however, meant that the left-footed dynamo – who was also eligible to represent Nigeria thanks to the heritage of her parents – was able to switch her allegiances to the land of her birth and, with a World Cup looming, she made her England debut against Austria on 8 November 2018 – finding the back of the net in a 3-0 win.
England loom as one of the favourites for the upcoming World Cup – ranked fourth in the World by FIFA after – and have been drawn in a group alongside Japan and rivals Scotland and Argentina.
With competition for places in the squad remaining fierce, 26-year-old Ubogagu was overnight named a part of England’s 28-player squad for an upcoming eight-day training camp in Qatar ahead of February’s SheBeleives Cup; indicating that she remains well on her way to representing the Lionesses at this June’s World Cup in France.
“(I’m) really excited, it’s a big one, Ubogagu said when asked about the upcoming England camp.
“It’s pretty awesome to start the year going into camp with a great team, and with the World Cup in just a few months I think it’s really important to try to get into as many camps as you can.
“I met most of the girls but a few of the girls that are pretty impactful in the team who were hurt in my last camp.
“They’re healthy now, ready to go, so I’m hoping to meet everyone and get some good training in.
“You want to get as many opportunities as you can (in camps) because you want to prove what you can do and what you can do to help the team.
“And as you want that, there are 20 to 100 players in the pool that are wanting the same thing so I’m super grateful.”
The Lionesses are led by former Manchester United, Everton and England great Phil Neville, who took over the post in January of 2018.
The 41-year-old helped guide England to qualification for France and Ubogagu said she enjoyed working under the tutelage of the man who was capped 59 times for England in his playing days.
“Phil’s pretty awesome,” she explained.
“It’s crazy that his name pops up on my phone when he checks in and stuff because, obviously, he’s a Man United legend.
“I’m an Arsenal fan for the record, but I respect what he did in the game.
“So, it’s pretty cool, him coming in as a coach, and he shows he cares a lot.
“He’s going into a lot of the games in the WSL in England to watch, scout and check up on performances and he’s watched a lot of the games here.
“It’s really cool to see how invested he is.”
After a two-game absence, Ubogagu is expecting to play in role in Roar’s clash with Melbourne City on Friday night, with her side sitting fourth on the W-League entering the clash and City fifth.
Despite the tantalising prospect of playing in a World Cup hovering over the horizon though, Ubogagu says that she’s not allowing it to diminish the task she has at hand with the Roar, and that the presence of other internationals both at the club and others she has played at through her career have placed her in good stead for focusing on the now.
“I think, fortunately for me I’ve seen a lot of other national team players handle it,” Ubogagu explained.
“I think the way they go about it is to go day to day and focus at the task at hand.
“So, for me, Melbourne City is a massive match for us.
“If we get three points we put ourselves in a really good position and when you’re doing stuff like that and performing for the game everything you’re doing is going to help for the latter goal.”