Nigeria’s Super Falcons are set to embark on their quest to secure a record 11th Africa Women Cup of Nations title at this year’s edition in Ghana starting on 17 November.
The defending champions will go into this edition as one of the favourites having been drawn in Group B against rivals South Africa, Zambia and Kenya, who have since been replaced by Equatorial Guinea, while hosts Ghana are drawn alongside Cameroon, Algeria and Mali in group A.
From the eight qualified nations, only Zambia and South Africa have finalised and announced their squads of 21 that will compete in the 11th edition of this prestigious competition which will also double as a 2019 World Cup Qualifier.
The growing number of the continent’s top women footballers across professional leagues in the United States, Norway, Russia, Cyprus, Lithuania, China and South Korea- among others, is a good enough sign that this edition of the Women Africa Cup of Nations will set the stage alight.
Goal takes a look at five players to watch out for at this year’s Women Cup of Nations.
The reigning Women African Footballer of the Year, Oshoala is surely one of the competition’s candidates to scoop the top-scorer award.
Oshoala scooped this award at the previous edition in Cameroon having netted six times in five outings and heads to Ghana with a similar expectation.
The 24-year-old also netted ten goals to help her Chinese side Dalian Quanjian retain the Chinese Women’s Super League title.
Like any other hosts, Ghana will also fancy their chances as they certainly believe that they have what it takes to clinch the title that has eluded them for the last 10 occasions.
Belarus-based stalwart Ampah is central to the Ghanaians hopes to dispel the drought and help them qualify for the World Cup in France next year.
Ampah dazzled for Minsk in Belarus, helping them to a Premier League Women, Baltic Women’s League and Super Cup Women treble. She also became the first Ghanaian to play in the round of 32 of the UEFA Women’s Champions League and also claimed the 2018 WAFU Women’s Cup with the Black Queens.
Despite being only 21-year-old, she has been touted to be a star for the Black Queens owing to how she controls and commands her backline.
Banda’s immediate impact for Logrono in the Primera Division Femenina is something not to be taken lightly. In a space of 52 days, the 18-year-old captained Shepolopolo to the semifinals of the Cosafa Cap in South Africa where she scored two goals. She also became the first Zambian woman to sign for a European club when she signed for Logrono and travelled to Spain to link up with her new side where she also scored on debut, in the 2-0 win over Sporting de Huelva.
Banda will be expected to translate her early form for her new club to the Awcon where she is also expected to continue leading Zambia in the absence of injured captain Misozi Zulu.
2018 has been a voyage to savour for Banyana Banyana’s midfield-maestro Jane.
First, she was named the Gauteng Sportswoman of the Year, and alongside striker Rhoda Mulaudzi, she became the first South African to play in Australia after signing with Canberra United, and most recently, Jane scored a brace to help Banyana retain the Cosafa Cup title, beating Cameroon 2-1 in the final.
It did not end the for the 26-year-old as she grabbed an assist, linking up with Mulaudzi, on her debut for Canberra and also bagged a brace on her second appearance at the weekend.
There is no doubt that heading to the Awcon, she is one of the players tipped to help the Desiree Ellis led side to secure their 2019 World Cup ticket.
Like Oshoala, Onguene received top honours at the 2016 Africa Women Cup of Nations as she was named the tournament’s best player. She heads to the tournament at the back of a mediocre campaign -three goals in 13 appearance- with CSKA Moskva in Russia, having failed to secure a Uefa Champions League spot after finishing fourth in the Russian Women’s Football Championship.
But knowing her prowess, she’s certainly Cameroon’s hope for glory in Ghana.