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Womens’ World Cup Preview: All the African Teams

The 2023 Women’s World Cup is less than a week away, and most teams have made their way to Australia and New Zealand for FIFA’s showpiece event.

Ghizlane Chebbak

Last week, we wrote a preview of Banyana Banyana’s group at the upcoming Women’s World Cup (Group G). This week, we are focusing on all the African representatives, Morocco, Nigeria, and Zambia. For all the patriotism that will follow their journey, it could be a tough tournament for the African teams. According to the FIFA rankings, the three lowest-ranked teams all come from the continent. That said, some positive pre-tournament results may bring hope. Here is our previous of Africa’s representatives.

Nigeria

World Ranking: 40th

African Ranking: 1st

World Cup Appearances: 9th

Best Finish: Quarter-finals in 1999

Key Player (s): Rasheedat Ajibade (Atletico Madrid, Asisat Oshoala (Barcelona)

Team Nigeria are not a stranger to the World Cup stage. They are one of seven teams that have been in every single edition, along USA, Germany, Norway, Brazil, Japan, and Sweden. Yet, they come into this tournament with some question marks, having deposed as queens of African football. Off-field squabbles may also be an unneeded distraction, but they are still the highest-ranked team from the continent.

They boast some serious firepower in their team. Asisat Oshoala is a UEFA Champions League winner and a recent Ballon d’Or nominee. She could be the key player if the Super Falcons want to progress from the Groups for a 3rd time. A group with two top-10-ranked teams (Australia and Canada) will not be easy, but a win against the Republic of Ireland could be a realistic target.

3 – Asisat Oshoala will be looking to become the first African player to score in three different Women’s World Cup tournaments, having scored at the 2015 & 2019 editions. (@OptaJoe)

Zambia

World Ranking: 77th

African Ranking: 9th

World Cup Appearances: Debut

Key Player(s): Barbara Banda (Shanghai Shengli), Racheal Kundananji (MadridCFF)\

Zambia are the lowest-ranked African team in the tournament, but don’t let the rankings fool you. The Copper Queens are one of the fastest-rising teams on the continent, with some standout performances and results in recent tournaments. They were the only African team that qualified for the last Olympics, and finished 3rd at the last WAFCON, beating Nigeria in the 3rd place playoff. This run included some major scalps along the way. Now, they are the holders of the COSAFA Women’s Cup, and their World Cup preparations included a 3-2 win over the 2nd-ranked Germany.

It’s a pretty impressive story, but a tough group awaits the debutants, with Spain, Japan, and Costa Rica as the teams they have to go past. The inclusion of some key players gives their chances a boost. 

Barbara Banda is well known from previous tournaments, but they also have Racheal Kundananji – a 25-goal superstar from the Spanish top flight. This goal tally included a final-day brace against Champions Barcelona, stopping them (Barca) from going a season unbeaten.

1 – ​​This is Zambia’s first appearance in the Women’s World Cup, the 7th different African nation to play at the finals.

Morocco

World Ranking: 72nd

African Ranking: 7th

World Cup Appearances: Debut

Key Player(s): Ghizlane Chebbak (AS FAR), Rosella Ayane (Tottenham Hotspurs)

Team Morocco are another African debutant and one of eight debutant teams at the finals. They will be hoping to bring their WAFCON form with them here. They were beaten finalists at home at the continental championships, playing possession-based football that entertained their home crowds. A 60% average for possession was the highest at WAFCON, but things will likely be very different in New Zealand.

In Reynald Pedros, the Lionesses of Atlas are being coached by a two-time UWCL-winning manager and 2018 winner of The Best FIFA Women’s Coach Award. His experience could come in handy. On the field, Ghizlane Chebbak and Rosella Ayane will look to lead the team. Both players shone at WAFCON, with goals, assists, and chances created. Captain Chebbak was also named in the Team of the tournament.

1 – Morocco are the first Arab nation to qualify for a Women’s World Cup.

South Africa

World Ranking: 54th

African Ranking: 2nd

World Cup Appearances: 2nd

Best Finish: Group Stage in 2019

Key Player: Thembi Kgatlana (Racing Louisville), Refiloe Jane (Sassuolo)

Banyana are making their second appearance at the finals, having debuted four years ago in France in 2019. They had a rather unpleasant time in Les Pays Des Droits De L’Homme (the land of Human Rights), losing every single game. But even with no points and a -8 goal difference, that wasn’t the worst record (Jamaica lost every game with a -11 goal difference). They face this tournament in different spirits, and not just because the baptism of fire is behind them. They qualified here by winning the 2022 Women’s African Cup of Nations, and so come into this as African champions. Banyana were top scorers at WAFCON but managed just one goal at the 2019WWC. They had just 4 shots on target at that World Cup and the attack is an area that will need improvement.

1 – South Africa scored with their first-ever shot on target at a Women’s World Cup finals tournament

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