Top 10 African Footballers Who Could Potentially Win the Women’s Ballon D’or
Since the inception of the Female World Footballer of the year award in 2001, there have been many worthy winners, exceptional players rewarded for their performances all through the year, but so far none of those women have been African.
For a long time, female football in Africa didn’t measure up to their counterparts in other continents, in fact out of eight World Cup tournaments since 1991, the Super Falcons of Nigeria making it to the quarterfinals in 1999 is the best we have seen from any African team.
However, the gap between Africa and the rest of the world has been closing, there are now a good number of top quality female African footballers who are performing at the highest level with the best in the world.
Many of these players themselves are not very far away from being crowned the best in the world in the near future. Here we give you The Top 10 Potential African Women’s Ballon D’or Candidates.
Gabrielle Aboudi Onguéné
Gabrielle Aboudi Onguéné has worked very hard over the years and seized every opportunity to display her talents, especially when representing the Indomitable Lionesses of Cameroon.
The 31-year old has developed a reputation for not only being one of the best African players of her generation but also one of the very best wingers in female football right now.
A bundle of tricks with a deadly and incisive eye for goal, Gabrielle has been nominated for the CAF African women’s footballer of the year award on 4 occasions, and even though she never won the award, her credentials are undeniable.
She currently plies her trade in the Russian league with CSKA Moscow, where she’s been since 2017, scoring 23 goals in 53 appearances for the team so far, including 9 goals in 14 games in her first season.
She’s just as formidable on the international scene as well, whenever Onguéné pulls on the Green of Cameroon, she’s almost always the best player on the pitch.
At the 2016 African Women’s cup of nations hosted by Cameroon, Onguéné inspired her country to a runners up finish after they lost the final to Nigeria, and she was duly named player of the tournament for her contributions.
Although at 31, age may no longer be on her side, she doesn’t show it though, just as exciting and vibrant as always, her talents were on display for the whole world to see at the 2019 World cup where Cameroon were knocked out in the group stages, but she still shone the brightest.
When Tabitha Chawinga made her debut in 2014 for Swedish club, Krokom/Dvärsätts IF as an 18-year-old, she wrote her name into the history books as the first female footballer from Malawi to play for a European club, but she wasn’t planning on stopping there.
Now 24 years old, Tabitha’s aim has shifted from national to continental domination, proving to be an unstoppable force of nature everywhere she’s been, an assertion that is very much backed by her impressive goalscoring statistics.
The Malawian striker scored 39 goals in 17 appearances in 2014, her debut season as a professional, in the Swedish 3rd division, she inevitably drew the attention of teams in the higher divisions, and she signed for Kvarnsveden IK in the Swedish second division.
She didn’t waste any time to adapt to the new level and banged in 43 goals to win the golden boot and help the team secure promotion Sweden’s highest division, the Damallsveskan.
She scored a total of 84 goals in 70 appearances for Kvarnsveden in her 3 years there and won the first division golden boot in her last season at the club before leaving for Chinese club, Jiangsu Suning in a deal that was a record-breaking transfer fee in Swedish football history.
Her time in China hasn’t been any different, nothing short of dominant, 69 goals in two seasons across all competitions has seen her win back to back Chinese Women’s super league player of the year awards, you get a feeling she’s not far away from getting recognition from CAF and FIFA.
Another one with her entire career still in front of her, Thembi Kgatlana is not only the poster girl of South African football but also one of the most recognisable female footballers on the continent.
The winger has achieved success despite only being 24 years old, she’s already the go-to player for the Banyana Banyana squad, and she also etched her name into the history of female football in South Africa.
Kgatlana scored South Africa’s first-ever World Cup goal in their debut game in 2019 against Spain, a sublime finish that was later nominated for goal of the tournament.
She’s also already been named the best player on the continent, in 2018 after she helped host nation, South Africa reach the Africa Women’s Cup of Nations finals where they lost to Nigeria.
Kgatlana finished the tournament with 5 goals in 6 games to win the Golden Boot and was also named Player of the Tournament, making 2018 her most memorable year thus far.
By far the most recognisable name of this list, easily the most successful African female footballer of this generation so far and the most likely to break into contention for the Ballon D’or, not enough can be said to sum up Asisat Oshoala accurately.
The Nigerian forward announced herself at the FIFA under 20 World Cup in 2014 where she won the Golden Boot and Ball, and she hasn’t looked back ever since.
Oshoala has since gone on to play for Liverpool ladies, Arsenal Ladies, Dalian Quanjian and currently FC Barcelona Femini, cementing her place as the most high profile African player in the female game right now.
“Super Zee” as she’s affectionately referred to, has a long list of individual and team honours, she’s won the CAF African Women’s Player of the Year award on four separate occasions, BBC Women’s Footballer of the Year in 2015, Chinese Women’s Super League Golden Boot in 2017 amongst many other awards.
She was an integral part of the Barcelona team that won the Spanish League and made it to the Champions League final last season, and it’s quite obvious she’s not far away from genuine Ballon D’or contention.
With all Asisat Oshoala has achieved, it’s hard to believe that she’s still only 26 years old, meaning there’s still more than enough time to generate some consistency and catch the attention of FIFA.
Esse Mbeyu Akida
The next stop on our tour of the African continent in search of potential Ballon D’or candidates in Kenya, the birth country of incredibly talented midfielder, Esse Mbeyu Akida.
A forward with a keen eye for the goal, Akida’s versatility is her strength, being capable in any position she’s needed on the field of play is what makes her such a valuable asset to the Harambee Starlets of Kenya and her club side, Besiktas of Turkey.
27-year old Akida is already the record highest goalscorer in the history of female football in Kenya and is easily the face of the team, but her path to the top has not been easy by any means.
Having to fight through hurdles of discrimination and just a sheer lack of opportunities, the beautiful Esse Akida has always allowed her feet do the talking, earning a move to Turkey in 2020.
It’s almost impossible to make a list of the best African players right now without including this explosive forward from Ghana, Elizabeth Addo.
When she’s feeling it, Addo is nearly unstoppable, blessed with a lot of pace and power despite her diminutive stature, she has been the scorn of many defenders both for her national and club sides.
Her abilities have helped her attract attention from around the world, having played for and gathered experience from 8 clubs in 7 different countries and 4 continents in her professional career so far at the age of 27.
Elizabeth Addo has also featured for every single Ghanaian youth grade team, all the way from the under-14s to the senior national team for whom she’s scored 10 goals in 25 competitive international games.
Addo was nominated for the Africa Women’s Player of the Year award in 2016 after her impressive performance at the AWCON which saw the Black Queens of Ghana make it to the semifinals.
As long as women’s football in Africa is the topic, there’s nobody quite like Gaëlle Enganamouit, from her appearance to her style of play, she always makes sure to stand out.
The Cameroonian forward is unique in every sense of the word and is without a doubt one of the best African players in the game right now.
Her pace, power and trickery, combined with lethal shot power of limitless range makes her a difficult opponent for any defence to handle, her goal in the Serbian league from the halfway line alludes to this fact.
She’s can also be quite prolific, having won the golden boot in the Swedish Damallsvenskan with 18 goals while playing for newly promoted Elskistuna united, helping them finish 2nd in their 1st division debut season in 2015.
Her efforts that year for club and country earned her the Africa Women’s Player of the Year award and a nomination for the 2016 BBC Women’s Player of the Year award.
Heralded by many as the potential successor to Asisat Oshoala’s role as queen of Nigerian football, Rasheedat Ajibade has so far lived up to the tag and continues to fuel the comparison.
The 20-year-old forward is known for her versatility, the ability to play as a winger or centre forward or support striker, her pace and trickery sets her apart from the rest, giving the opposition defence multiple headaches.
Rasheedat herself has tried to distance herself from comparisons to Asisat Oshoala, and quite understandably so, the pressure to live up to that tag might way too heavy on the 20-year-old.
Rasheedat Ajibade is used to being the best player on her team, right from the Nigerian nation under 17s to the under 20s, she’s always stood head and shoulders above her peers, even though she’s quite small physically.
At just 17 years old, Rasheedat Ajibade was named the best player in the Nigerian women’s football league, due to her superb performances for FC Robo in 2017, when she also finished as the league’s joint-highest top scorer.
In 2016 she featured in both the FIFA u-17 and u-20 World Cups, returning again for the latter two years later as she was still eligible, before then impressing coach Thomas Dennerby enough to include her in the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup squad for Nigeria.
Rasheedat currently plays for Danish team, Avaldnes whom she signed for in 2018 and has scored 12 goals in 39 appearances for the club. She definitely still has a lot more to offer.
Another Kenyan forward, Neddy Atieno is one that instantly catches the eye while watching, and may well be positioned for worldwide recognition.
She has a reputation for always leaving it all on the pitch, from her trademark speedy runs down the wings to her firing touch in front of goal, and her desire to give 100% every time she’s representing her club and country.
With a combined 23 caps, five in her junior years and 18 in the senior team and a total goal tally of 12, 25-year-old Neddy Atieno has savoured some memorable moments in her international career, especially internationally.
Not to forget her outstanding skill on the ball which has drawn comparisons to Brazilian legend, Marta, a player Atieno herself has admitted to drawing inspiration from.
Neddy Atieno was a part of the Harambee Starlets squad that made history by beating Algeria to book a place in the 2016 Africa Women Cup of Nations final held in Cameroon, and her best moment was in the same year (2016) when she was named best Female Player of the Year at the SOYA Awards.
23-year-old Uchenna Kanu is one of those that has limitless potential, under the right circumstances she could well grow into a real menace and potentially the best player in the world someday.
The Nigerian striker is a proper centre forward, a laser-sharp focus on nothing but goals, Kanu’s record speaks for itself, her numbers at the collegiate level are so ridiculously high it’s almost unbelievable.
Uchenna Kanu studied at and played for Southeastern fire at Collegiate level and broke record after record, scoring a total of 115 goals in 55 games across 3 seasons, including her sophomore year where she scored a whopping 57 goals and provided 18 assists in 23 games.
Of course, these ridiculous numbers got the attention of the national team who quickly handed her a call up to the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup and she featured in all 4 games before the Super Falcons got knocked out in the round of 16.
Her professional club career has seen the same pattern, scoring everywhere she’s been, fro Penescola FC in America to Sevilla in Spain on a 6-month contract to now Linkopings in the Swedish Damallsvenskan, Uchenna Kanu is without a doubt destined for the very top.