African Players To Watch Out For In Europe
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.
CAF Women’s Champions League Round-Up
Impetus’ African correspondent Esther Owusua Appiah-Fei updates us on all the CAF Women’s Champions League action as the semi-finals took place 19/11/21.
Action from the semi-final between Mamelodi Sundowns (right) and Malabo Kings. Pic: CAF Women
The CAF Women’s Champions League has been nothing short of enthralling and riveting, capturing all the emotions as Africa and the world watch history unfold.
The Semi-Final matches of this tournament were nerve-wracking but managed to serve their purpose to many fans watching.
After an eventful group stage that saw hosts, Wadi Degla, River Angels, AS Mande, and Vihiga Queens exit, the stage was set for the final four to battle out to determine who made it to the final. The endearing yet enthralling Hasaacas Ladies were the first team to book their tickets to the finals after thumping ASFAR on a 2-1 scoreline. Mamelodi Sundowns were the second to book their tickets after a dramatic penalty shootout with Malabo Kings. The stage has been set, the big question which lingers on is “who is going to lift the trophy for the inaugural CAF Women’s Champions League?” That question will be answered today (Friday 21st November).
Hasaacas Ladies are on an unbeaten record even after stubborn Wadi Degla held them to a 2-2 draw. Prior to that, they had beaten Malabo Kings (3-1) and AS Mande (3-0) and looked poised for the semi-finals. ASFAR on the other hand had quite a convincing win against River Angels but then shriveled in their next two group games where they were beaten by Vihiga Queens (2-0) and drew against Mamelodi Sundowns (0-0). Advancing into the semi-finals was a close shave after Vihiga Queens failed to capitalize on their initial three point advantage after losing to River Angels.
Hasaacas were to face ASFAR on Monday, November 15 for the first semi-final game and this was a knock-out game. Both teams knew the propensity of this match and what it meant to their fans and countrymen back home. Hasaacas as usual powered into the game with their signature attack-minded tactics. Doris Boaduwaa finally scored her long-awaited goal for the campaign to give Hasaacas Ladies the lead.
ASFAR responded after Najt Badri converted Fatima’s cross into the back of the net to cancel the deficit. The second half saw both teams determined to find that pivotal goal which can etch their names in history, That breaking point happened after Doris Boaduwaa surged forward on a powerful run where she launched the ball into the box of ASFAR and super striker Evelyn Badu was at the right place to convert it into a goal.
Hasaacas Ladies took the lead but prior to that, Perpetual Agyekum missed a penalty kick but the resiliency of this team manifested when they regained their lead. Try as ASFAR may, they couldn’t level the scoreline and Hasaacas sailed through to the finals of the inaugural CAF Women’s Champions League. The celebration was definitely out of this world and they were going to write history in the best possible form.
The game between Mamelodi Sundowns and Malabo Kings was undoubtedly a massive headliner. Mamelodi Sundowns proved they are the queens of the conservative style of football in the competition thus far. They haven’t conceded any goal from open play and defensively, they are simply the best.
The game against Malabo did not hinder their proclivity to step up and defend. That was a style they weren’t going to compromise on. The game was majorly a midfield hassle but try as Malabo may, they were unable to break the defensive line of the Mamelodi Sundowns. Stephanie Drepoba, the star player for the Kings was injured in the early moments of the game and though she was treated, she just couldn’t find her rhythmic flow especially with her frontline partners Grace Bolongi and Bella Rose. Mamelodi’s Zanelenhlapho was always there to keep them in check. Both teams had to be extremely tactical to create chances but that only exposed how lagging their frontline was. The game bled into extra-time and eventually penalties. Mamelodi Sundowns stood tall against Malabo Kings after a dramatic penalty shootout which ended 6-5 Mamelodi.
Mamelodi Sundowns earned their berth for the final of the CAF Women’s Champions League against Hasaacas Ladies on Friday, November 19, 2021.
Malabo Kings will go head to head with ASFAR in the third-place playoff game on Thursday, November 18.
Esther Owusua Appiah-Fei will review the inaugural CAF Women’s Champions League Final for Impetus in the coming days.
First-Ever CAF Champions League Gets Underway
By Esther Owusua Appiah-Fei 7/11/21
Above: Fatumata celebrates her goal for Wadi Degla. Photo: CAF Women
History was made in world football on Friday, November 5, when the inaugural edition of the CAF Women’s Champions League kicked off. Although the AS Mande players were tall and athletic, it wasn’t enough to make the ladies of Wadi Degla flinch. It was a rather thrilling opening game between AS Mande and the host nation’s club Wadi Degla. An early penalty kick, an enterprising team goal, and a final goal poacher drove the final nail into the ruins of AS Mande. When it looked like the game could possibly take a surprising turn of events after Awa’s consolation goal for Mande, Jasmine added that goal poacher to seal the deal.
All this ensued in the historic inaugural CAF Women’s Champions League taking place in Egypt. This fixture was the first Group A game of the tournament. The game lived up to its hype and gave all the thrills an opening game must give.
HOW WELDI WADI SAW OFF AS MANDE
The game had an early surprise after the referee blew her whistle to signal a penalty offense caused by Salimata Kone, captain of AS Mande. Hayam Abdelhafez made a thrusting run on the left flank of the Mande defense line and got cut out by Salimata. Captain of Wedi Degla, Noha Mamdouh shot a sublime penalty kick to give the host side the lead in just under 2 minutes of the game.
AS Mande quickly got in their groove desperate for a quick equalizer but that ended in total futility. The Egyptian side got cooking again and Hayam with her nimble feet surged on the left flank and launched an an-inch perfect cross into the 18-yard box. Fatumata got on the end of it with cool composure and slotted in the second goal of Wedi in the eighth minute.
Becki of AS Mande tried her best to cut through the defense of Weldi but her predominantly right foot made her so predictable and easy to nip.
It would have been three goals for Wadi Degla had Basant’s crisp header not been ruled out for offside. The offside call was a wake-up call for AS Mande to get enterprising and find the back of the net before the halftime whistle. After constantly trying, they managed to break through the defense of Weldi, and their Captain Awa Traore slotted it home with two defenders literally breathing down her neck.
The second half saw AS Mandi with more intent and determination to level their half deficit. They were the better of the two sides with Weldi intermittently posing a threat from their counterattacks. AS Mandi squandered so many chances through their striker, Bassira Toure. Little did they know that Weldi’s nimble-foot wingers would shoot them where it hurt the most. Jasmin Theresa poached a goal from a set-piece to restore their initial two-goal lead.
Wadi Degla managed to stand tall in a game where they utilized all their set pieces and nimble wingers to trap Mande in a 3-1 victory. They all bagged three points and are looking forward to their next group game matches. Hayam Abdelhafez was awarded Woman of the match.
In her post-game interview, Abdelhafez said “I’m not the best player, we are all better together. We prepared a lot, and this is beginning is the result of our hard work.”
“I want to win the woman of the match more than once. We have the concentration for every game to win n matter what happens and no matter how the teams play against us”.
Wadi Degla’s next game is against Malabo Kings FC on Monday, November 7, 2021, whereas AS Mande will go head to head with Hasaacas Ladies on the same day as well.
HASAACAS LADIES MESMERIZED FANS AFTER A 3-1 VICTORY OVER MALABO KINGS FC
Ghana’s Women’s Premier League Champions, Hasaacas Ladies went head to head with the Champions of Equatorial Guinea in Game 2 of the CAF Women’s Champions League. It was an enthralling match and a highly physical game between two teams who are heavily attack-minded. Evelyn Badu of Hasaacas Ladies made history as the first woman to ever score a brace in the CAF Women’s Champions League.
The game started at a rather slow pace as both teams tried to work their way through the respective gameplan of their opponent. Hasaacas Ladies eased into the game more after ten minutes and set the ball rolling in the half of their opponents. Rahama Jafar found Evelyn Badu after a perfect through pass from midfield and she hit a low drive finish pass goalkeeper Ruth Chinasa to give Hasaacas the lead on the 11th minute. The rest of the half was a midfield battle between both sides with Hasaacas wasting most of their chances. One of such opportunities was a carefully worked pass to Doris Boaduwaa on the right flank of the 18-yard box where she played it directly into the hands of the Malabo Kings goalkeeper.
The second half began with Hasaacas ladies probing for more goals. Malabo Kings FC tried to break the defensive line of Hasaacas but the enterprising captain and defender, Janet Egyir gave no such chance to them. She built what could be termed as “the great wall of Hasaacas” at the back. Evelyn Badu showed how enthralling she was as she thumped two ambitious shots on target in high hopes of doubling the lead for Hasaacas and giving them room to breathe.
Her ambition paid off as she found the back of the net after Doris Boaduwaa launched a perfect cross in the 18-yard box. Evelyn converted it into a goal but it was ruled out for offside.
The game became a bit tepid from the 60th minute mark through to the 80th. Hasaacas Ladies, however, won a corner kick on the 83rd minute and Perpetual Agyekum dropped jaws as she scored directly from the setpiece. It was a mind-boggling moment that sealed her name as one of the best setpiece takers in the team and Ghana.
A dramatic twist of events occurred after Stephanie Gbogou halved the deficit on the 90th just to announce a classic “Game on” moment. Malabo Kings harbored the idea of staging a dramatic comeback but Evelyn Badu’s ambitions on the pitch were far greater. Doris Boaduwaa teed up a nice ball into the 18-yard box and with cool composure, Evelyn slotted the final goal into the net sealing the victory for her team on the 93rd minute of the game. All hopes for a comeback for Malabo Kings just fizzled into the air.
Evelyn was awarded Woman of the match after her staggering performance on the pitch in her post-game interview she said,
“I thank God for this opportunity in my first match in WCL. The woman of the match award encourages me to do more for the team and for myself, I’m now more persistent to achieve more”.
Hasaacas Ladies will come up against AS Mande on the 8th of November 2021.
African Women’s Cup of Nations News
Impetus is delighted to welcome Ghana-based women’s football journalist Esther Owusua Appiah-Fei to our global team of contributors. In this, her first article for us, she rounds up all the action from the first qualifying stage for the African Women’s Cup of Nations.
Above: Nigeria vs Ghana in the first leg of the AWCON qualifiers at the Mobolaji Johnson Arena (Lagos) Photo supplied by: Esther Owusua Appiah-Fei
African women’s football, though with a few developments needed, has seen a stark improvement over the past three decades since its official inception. The African Women’s Cup of Nation (AWCON) has grown steadily in the past few decades to give women’s football the competitive edge it needs on the continent. The 2022 AWCON qualifiers delivered its share of fun, excitement, lethargic moments as well as the highs and lows from the players.
The two greatest powerhouses and longstanding rivals were in the mix and to the surprise of many, they had to clash way too early in the qualifiers. The Black Queens of Ghana were drawn against the Super Flacons of Nigeria and it was nothing short of a thrill-infested game with all the antics and drama. Desiree Ellis and her Bayana Bayana ladies from South Africa, once again, made a statement that constant investment into women’s football pays off in beneficial folds and that can get you a highly coveted spot in an AWCON tournament.
A record of 44 great teams from Africa were pitted against each other for 11 spots in the final campaign. Prior to the game, there were critiques, who were against the format of the qualifiers but CAF still pushed through with it regardless. On May 10, 2022, the draw for the qualifiers en route to Morocco was done in Egypt, at CAF’S Headquarters in Cairo. The initial date set for the qualifiers were ‘June 7-17’ for the first round and ‘October 18-29’ for the second round.
However, on May 17, CAF distributed an official press release where they stated the immediate suspension of all the games due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, and the poor state of some stadiums on the continent. The quality of the game was an element the Federation wasn’t going to compromise on. The new dates for the AWCON qualifiers were also stated in the press release. The first round was going to take place within the month of October from the 18th through to the 26th whereas the second round will start on February 14-23 respectively.
During the international break in the various leagues, all the players together with their compatriots flew down to Africa to serve their international duties. The first leg of the first playoff round ended with quite some interesting score lines. Magnificent amongst them were the cricket scorelines in the mix. Algeria drubbed Sudan in a 14-0 massacre, with Botswana outclassing Angola by 5-1, Kenya also mauled South Sudan by 8-0 with Desiree Ellis’s South Africa thrashing Mozambique by 7-0. The Copper Queens of Zambia shared the spoils with Malawi after a 1-1 thrilling game. Barbara Banda missed this particular round of qualifiers for undisclosed reasons.
The game that caught the attention of many was Ghana’s encounter with arch West African rivals, Nigeria. Nigeria held Ghana to a 2-0 scoreline with a super brace from Uchenna for the Falcons.
The second leg of the first playoff round was also held over the weekend from Saturday, October 23, through to Tuesday, October 26. Teams like Ghana, Central Africa Republic, Liberia, Mauritania, Benin, Sierra Leone, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Gabon, Malawi, and Zambia were hoping to overturn their luck and qualify for the second round, slated for February 2022. It was a ‘do or die’ affair and all the teams were in no position to slip up and miss the next round of qualifiers. Ghana played against the Super Falcons of Nigeria on their home turf at the Accra Sports Stadium. Their games were the highlight of the whole Qualifiers considering the fact that they are the pacesetters for women’s football in Africa.
The Black Queens of Ghana played immensely well at Accra and complimented their performance with a great goal by Princella Adubea. They huffed and puffed trying to break the Nigerian defensive line and set the aggregate scoreline all square but it all proved futile. It ended 1-0 in favor of the Queens but on aggregate, Nigeria won by 2-1 and advanced to the second round.
The other round of matches across the continent were also dramatic and left fans on the edges of their seats. The game between Zambia and Malawi was one for the books. They both entered this clash with a 1-1 scoreline on aggregate hence had everything to fight for. Zambia showed their resiliency and tactical prowess and stood tallest after what turned out to be a nerve-wracking match. At halftime, the Copper Queens of Zambia led the scoreline with two goals from Racheal Kundananji 25’, 41’ and Asimeye Simwaka of Malawi scored the first goal of the game on the seventh-minute mark. Malawi leveled proceedings from a screamer by Wezzie Mvula on the 70th-minute mark.
After three minutes, Lushomo Mweeba put Zambia back in the lead from a long-range freekick. It all ended in favor of Zambia and they proceeded to the second and final round of the qualifiers. This time they go head to head with Namibia who emerged victorious over Tanzania.
Kenya and Algeria had the highest scoring aggregate in this qualifying round with their cricket score lines. There were no major upsets as almost all the powerhouses in Africa women’s football qualified for the next round,
Unfortunately, all the teams who were in high hopes of staging a comeback and causing an upset in their second legs fell through. DR Congo and Equatorial Guinea were disqualified. Djibouti, Rwanda, Togo, and Sao Tome E Principe withdrew and the game between Algeria and Sudan was also postponed. With the political unrest still looming in Sudan, it is still uncertain when the second leg between the two would come off.
For what is worth all the teams showed great charisma for their games and had the perks of playing the game they loved most in their national team colors. The tactics employed by the various coaches and the overall player performance rate were at a staggering high. This clearly showed a great renaissance in African women’s football and it was nothing short of thrills, excitement, and a great spectacle of football for women and the continent at large.