The group stage of the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France was concluded on Thursday with Nigeria and Cameroon reaching the Round of 16 with fixtures against Germany and England on the horizon for both.
South Africa’s Amajita had crashed out in the group stages.
Izuchukwu Okosi here takes a look at the outstanding players from the African continent that lit up the group stages.
Goal Chiamaka Nnadozie
The goalkeeping position goes to 18 year old Nigerian goalkeeper Chiamaka Nnadozie who created a bit of history as the first teenage goalkeeper not to concede a goal in the group stage of the FIFA Women’s World Cup when she produced a spectacular performance in Nigeria’s 2-0 win against South Korea on June 12.
Defence Okeke, Wyk, Ebi, Ebere
In defence, there are three Nigerians and a South African in a very strong looking back line.
At right back Nigeria’s Chidinma Okeke edges it over South Africa’s Lebohang Esther Ramalepe.
Okeke had an assist, the long pass to Asisat Oshoala for Nigeria’s second goal in the win over Korea.
Despite bagging a second yellow card (and resultant red card) against France Ngozi Ebere had a monstrous group stage and was clearly one of Nigeria’s brightest players in the group stage with her astute defending and lightning speed from left back.
South Africa captain Janine van Wyk was one of Africa’s heroines in the group stage of the FIFA Women’s World Cup and in fact captains this side.
Wyk is a true leader and aside her assured defending, had some goal scoring chances to boot.
Nigeria’s Onome Ebi is making her fifth appearance at the Women’s World Cup and 13 appearances as well. She partners the South African in the centre back positions.
Midfield Okobi, Nchout, Ongua
Super Falcons midfielder Ngozi Okobi plays in the base of our midfield where her ball winning abilities wins her a place.
Okobi’s vision and retention of possession are some of her strengths.
Cameroon’s Ajara Nchout who plays for Norwegian side Valerenga announced herself to the footballing world with a two star performance (a brace) in Cameroon’s 2-1 win against New Zealand which secured a Round of 16 place for the Indomitable Lionesses.
Playing slightly in an advanced position behind the attackers we have gone for Cameroon’s star forward Gabrielle Aboudi Ongua – but the CSKA Moscow star will make do with an attacking midfield position due to her dribbling skills and need to accommodate the star names.
Attack Oparanozie, Oshoala, Kgatlana
The trident in attack consist of the Nigerian duo of Desire Oparanozie and Asisat Oshoala, and South Africa’s speed merchant Christine Kgatlana.
Oshoala scored a brilliant goal rounding the keeper to score the winning goal against Korea while Oparanozie applied the pressure to force an own goal for the first goal. Oparanozie is Nigeria’s captain.
Kgatlana and her team exited in the group stages but her speed and scoring instincts were there for all to see. What a strike she had against Spain in an unfortunate 3-1 defeat.
By Izuchukwu Okosi