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African All Stars

International Women's Day: Celebrating 10 inspiring women in African football

4:30 AM EST 3/8/22
Van wijk, Oshoala, Enganamouit
To celebrate International Women's Day, GOAL celebrate ten of the most inspiring women in African football

  • Desire Oparanozie

    Desire Oparanozie

    One of the best African strikers of the decade, Oparanozie has arguably been under-celebrated for her numerous achievements and quality.

    She's not only dangerous and fast, but also physically very robust and strong in one-on-one duels. The Nigerian has weighed in with a series of important goals in recent years.

    Ever since her youth, she has distinguished herself as a talented striker, finding the net five times in back-to-back U-20 Women's World Cup events two years after her U-17 outing in New Zealand.

    Since 2010, she has been part of the Super Falcons, scoring crucial goals in the 2014 and 2016 finals to celebrate four African Women's Cup of Nations titles. Notably, in 2014, the 28-year-old also emerged top scorer with five goals at the Awcon in Namibia.

    In 2019, she captained Nigeria to the Women's World Cup knockout stage in France for the first time in 20 years.

  • Referee Salima Mukansanga Zimbabwe and Guinea

    Salima Mukansanga

    Rwandan referee who, at the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations earlier this year, became the first woman to officiate a men's game at the continent's premier competition.

    Mukansanga oversaw Zimbabwe's group-stage victory over Guinea, establishing herself firmly as a pioneer for women umpires within African sport.

  • Racheal Kundananji, Onome Ebi

    Onome Ebi

    Ebi is arguably Africa's most consistent women's footballer of the last 10 years, having featured in virtually all of Nigeria's games in international competitions held in the 2010s. 

    She hit the milestone in July 2019 as the first African to play in five Fifa World Cups following her appearances at the 2003, 2007, 2011, 2015 and 2019 editions of the tournament. 

    The veteran defender won two titles with Atasehir Belediyespor in Turkey, and featured in the Uefa Women's Champions League with Minsk in Belarus. Despite being a defender, she is also fantastic in front of goal, scoring regularly for Chinese side Henan Huishiang in the last two seasons. 

    At 38, she has won four African Women's Cup of Nations titles, and was named Nigeria's Women's Player of the Year 2018.

  • Janine Van Wyk , Oshoala

    Janine Van Wyk

    Van Wyk stands out as one of the most decorated South African female athletes in history.

    At Palace Super Falcons, she was a three-time Sasol league winner at club level and went on to gain professional experience abroad, playing in the US with Houston Dash and then Danish club Fortuna Hjorring.

    The veteran defender will always be remembered for her famous goal for Banyana Banyana that denied reigning African champions Nigeria silverware at the 2012 African Women's Cup of Nations.

    Before gaining 170 South Africa caps—more than any of her compatriots in history—Van Wyk was part of Banyana's back-to-back outings at the Olympic Games in London 2012 and Rio 2016, where she was the captain of the national side.

    She is also the first skipper to lead South Africa to a maiden senior World Cup event.

    She lifted her fourth Cosafa Cup title in August 2019 and is the founder of JVW, who won the 2019 Sasol League National Championship, thereby earning a promotion to the top flight.

  • Barbra Banda Zambia Women 2021

    Barbra Banda

    Zambia hotshot who netted two hat-tricks for the Shepolopolo during their memorable campaign at the Olympic Games last year.

    Banda's pair of triples meant she became the first woman to score multiple hat tricks at the same edition of the Olympics, while also equalling the record for most goals scored in a single tournament.

    "It's good to make history when you have the opportunity so I just have to keep on working hard and breaking more history," Banda, who won the Chinese Super League top scorer award last year, told journalists. "I still have a long way to go.

    "I just have to be disciplined because I am aiming to become the best footballer in the world."

  • Kanizat Ibrahim - Comoros

    Kanizat Ibrahim

    Former entrepreneur who stepped into sports administration during the Comoros football crisis of 2018-2019, as the country's football was overseen by a Standardization Committee.

    Ibrahim helped the Comoros emerge from the testing situation, despite the complications imposed upon the country's football by the coronavirus pandemic, and she was appointed to the Caf Executive Committee last year.

    Dr Patrice Motsepe named her, last year, as a vice-presdident of the Confederation of African football - the first woman and the first Comoran to hold such a prominent position within the organisation.

  • Gaelle Enganamouit

    Gaelle Enganamouit

    Enganamouit shot to prominence on the international stage when she scored the fastest goal in women's football history, after just two seconds, for Spartak Subotica in Serbia.

    The 29-year-old starred in Cameroon's first Olympic Games in London 2012 and then their first Women's World Cup three years later in Canada.

    She scored a hat-trick in the 6-0 group win over Ecuador to become the first African to score three in a Women's World Cup match during the 2015 edition, and capped that year by winning the Damallsvenskan top scorer award with 18 goals.

    She also won the 2015 African Women's Player of the Year prize, and was nominated for the BBC Women's Footballer of the Year 2016.

  • Desiree Ellis - South Africa

    Desiree Ellis

    Africa's pre-eminent women's coach in the game today, Ellis has twice been named Caf Women's Head Coach of the Year.

    The 58-year-old is a former Banyana Banyana captain, and inspired South Africa to their first ever Women's World Cup after finishing second at the 2019 Nations Cup.

    Ellis deserves immense credit for overseeing Banyama's immense climb in the women's game.

  • Gabrielle Onguene of Cameroon

    Gabrielle Onguene

    Arguably the best winger of the last 10 years in African football, with her ability to create chances, her dribbling and pace in wide areas for the Indomitable Lionesses.

    Gabrielle made her Indomitable Lionesses debut in 2008. Her goal ensured Cameroon edged South Africa in the semis and they went on to claim gold at the African Games in 2011.

    She scored Cameroon's only goal at their Olympic Games outing in London 2012, and was named the tournament's Best Player as the Central Africans finished second at the 2016 African Women's Cup of Nations.

    She also played at two Women's World Cup finals (2015 and 2019), registering a goal in each.

    At club level, Onguene won three titles with Cameroonian side Louves Miniproff de Yaounde, and played for Russian side Rossiyanka before joining CSKA Moscow, where she lifted her first domestic title in Europe in 2019.

    Consistent excellence across the course of the last 10 years...

  • Asisat Oshoala Nigeria

    Asisat Oshoala

    Oshoala established her legacy as one of Africa's best of the decade since she shot into the international limelight in 2014.

    That year, she claimed the Golden Ball and Golden Boot at the U-20 Women's World Cup in Canada, before winning the first of her three African Women's Cup of Nations title in Namibia.

    The 27-year-old went on to claim the inaugural BBC Women's Player of the Year prize, four African Women's Player of the Year gongs along with Nigeria Sports Awards and Nigeria Pitch Awards among others.

    She became the first African female player to secure a professional move to England after joining Liverpool in 2015, and, a year later, moved to Arsenal where she won the FA Cup.

    In a search for greener pastures, she signed for Chinese club Dalian Quanjian, where she won four domestic honours in two seasons before making a surprise loan switch to Barcelona in Spain.

    Having scored eight goals in 11 games for Barcelona on an initial loan spell, including her side's only goal in Champions League final against Lyon, she earned a three-year permanent deal in June 2019, and also became the first African to play and score in the European elite women's club competition.

    Since then, the goals have flown in, and in 2020 she won a domestic quadruple including the Spanish top flight and Copa de la Reina. Last year, she followed that up by becoming the first African woman to win the Champions League.

    At international level, Oshoala inspired Nigeria to a Women's World Cup knockout phase for the first time in two decades in France in 2019.