Nigeria international Ini-Abasi Umotong may have had an exceptional first season at Portsmouth Ladies FC in England after helping the club to two trophies, but there is still something she’s ‘guilty’ about.
The 21-year old fantastic finisher amassed a 29-goal haul in 25 appearances to emerge highest goal scorer for the Blues in the 2014/2015 season as they clinched their seventh successive Hampshire County Cup and the FA Women’s Premier League Southern Division Championship.
However, they failed to gain promotion to the FA Women’s Super League 2 after losing by an injury-time winner to Northern Division Champions Sheffield FC in the play-off that officially marked the end of the season.
Pompey manager Perry Northeast had told the BBC that it was a cruel way to end their season and Umotong who was on national duty with the Nigeria’s Women National Team at the time, felt the same way as she watched from Canada where the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup was staged.
“I was in Canada when they played that (the promotion play-off) and it was devastating because it was such a close game and all I could do was watch helplessly from Canada.
“It was so intense while I was watching and I felt guilty because I couldn’t be there to play,” Umotong told Sport On from her Birmingham base in England.
In the end, the guilt does not stop her from relishing how sublime she was in the past season and how the friendly and accommodating environment at Pompey contributed to her improvement and effectiveness.
It is still her heart desire to help the club achieve promotion and she said “it will be great if I can help” as she would be staying for at least one more season.
“I’m going to stay at Portsmouth for at least one more season because I do believe we can move into the Super League so I want to move into the Super League with Portsmouth.
“It’s a club that is a lot like home to me, very comfortable, so I’m going to give one more season and hope to move into the Super League with them next season, if not then I’ll weigh my options again for the following season.”
In the mean time, huge credit goes to her teammates and coaches for her performance last season.
“If I didn’t have a good team I wouldn’t have been able to score that many goals. And because I had good coaches that just know what’s best for me. So I know they deserve all the credit for that,” Umotong stated.
Looking ahead now, the FA Women’s Premier League Southern Division Champions are getting ready for the new season with pre-season friendly matches and without wasting time, prolific Umotong has got back into her scoring rhythm, finding the net twice as Portsmouth FC Ladies spanked Shanklin 8-1 in their first friendly on Sunday.
Portsmouth Ladies FC begin their title defence away to Cardiff City in a replay of last season’s opener on August 16. But before then, they travel to Wiltshire to face Swindon Town Ladies on August 2nd in their next friendly, and later host Women’s Super League 1 side, Chelsea, six days before their trip to Cardiff.