Impetus’ African Women’s Football Correspondent Emmanuel Faith identifies the players to watch from the continent who are playing their club football in Europe this season (30/9/22).
Above: Roselle Ayane, Tottenham Hotspur’s striker pictured playing for Morocco. Photo: The Athletic.
Records are getting broken, new bars are being set, stadiums are getting filled and wonder goals are being scored. It’s a new era for female football, and the spotlight is finally shining on the game. Isn’t it a great time to be alive?
Different leagues enjoy the beauty and variety of imported talents and those from the developing continents particularly warm their way into our hearts. Everyone loved Ji So Yun at Chelsea, Kumagai is still weaving wonders at Bayern Munich, Asisat Oshoala keeps making magic at Barcelona, and Rasheedat Ajibade is beginning to cement her name in the story of Atletico Feminine. Today, we are spotlighting African players you should watch out for in Europe this season.
Roselle Ayane: Born in Reading to a Moroccan father and a Scottish mother, the Tottenham Hotspur forward, who played at the youth level for England before choosing Morocco is one to watch out for this season. Ayane, who plays as a forward has struggled to live to her full potential, however, this might change this season. Despite having a slow start to her career at Spurs, she scored three goals in five matches in the Conti Cup last season and she would be hoping to replicate her exceptional form that saw her national team get to the finals of the recently concluded WAFCON.
Toni Payne: Born in Alabama to Nigerian parents, Payne started her career in the Netherlands with Ajax before moving to join the Primera Division club, Sevilla. The versatile player who plays on the wing, or as a third person in the midfield and recently a full-back, has cemented her spot in the Sevilla team, and this season might be a good time to stretch for more.
Ajara Nchout: It takes a lot of skills and ability to score a Puskas-worthy goal, and if you are seeking an audacious player who isn’t scared to take on defenders, score crackers and amass points for her team with wonder strikes, then Ajara is the one to call. The 2019 Puskas nominee is one of the biggest export Africa has in Europe, and with some level of consistency, Ajara would be looking to unlock new levels this season. Having bagged two goals in the opening four matches for her club, Inter-Milan, her brilliant start to the season is just a glimpse of the wonders to come.
Rasheedat Ajibade: The blue-hair player who dazzles with her dribbling skills plays for Atletico Madrid is definitely a rockstar to watch out for this season, her goal in the opening game of the season is a sign that she is ready to reach for more heights and beat any personal standards she might have set for herself last season.
Chiamaka Nnadozie: Last season, she won the Bruno Martini award for being the goal-keeping revelation of the season, and was ranked seventh in the world by the International Federation of Football History and statistics. The 22-year-old number-one shot-stopper is entrenching her name and we can expect another season of crucial saves and match-winning performances from the Nigerian star.
Asisat Oshoala: Any list of African female footballers in the last decade without Asisat’s name is incomplete. Winning a record-breaking fifth African player of the year and being the highest African player in the ESPN top 50 list, Oshoala would be looking to claim a spot in the starting 11 of her club, improve on her clinical ability in the box and hopefully deliver performances that would rank her higher as far as world recognition is concerned. Playing at a club like Barcelona Feminine comes with a lot of responsibilities, and being the first African to be nominated for Ballon d’Or is a great acknowledgement of her outstanding performances. Opening the season with a wondergoal means only one thing; Oshoala isn’t resting, and as far as flying the flag of the continent is concerned, she is only just starting.
There are other players like Ashley Plumptre of Leicester City, Christy Ucheibe of Benfica, Evelyn Badu of Avaldness IL in Norway, and Vicky Lopez (who is still eligible to play for either Spain or Nigeria. We can’t wait to see the wonders they would perform this season even as we look forward to the women’s World Cup next year.