The year 2023 has undeniably marked a new pinnacle for women’s football in Africa, and the FIFA Women’s World Cup was the grand stage that showcased the immense growth the sport has experienced across the continent.

Recognising this significant development, it is only apt to embrace, document, and celebrate the achievements of the top 20 female African footballers who shone in 2023.

The active involvement of these stars, alongside countless others not explicitly mentioned, deserves applause and celebration. Women’s football is progressively carving its place on the global stage, dispelling concerns that Africa might be left behind. The collective efforts of these women on the grand stage have not only nullified such fears but have also demonstrated the remarkable strides Africa has made in the beautiful game.

Countries across the continent are now actively supporting their women’s teams, enabling them to represent their nations on the grand stage of women’s football history. This collective effort has resulted in African women gaining recognition for their exceptional talent on the pitch. This recognition, in turn, has translated into nominations for prestigious awards, improved club football opportunities, lucrative endorsements, and more.

The legacy of the early generation of female footballers has been amplified and built upon by the current generation of stars. Looking ahead, it is safe to assert that women’s football in Africa is in capable hands. With continued passion, drive, and support, the sport is poised for sustained growth, ensuring a bright future for women’s football on the continent for many years to come.

Who are the best African female footballers of 2023?

Recognizing the exponential growth of women’s football in Africa, it is imperative to acknowledge and celebrate every female footballer playing at any level. While every player deserves recognition, this specific list focuses on those who have particularly stood out on the pitch in 2023. The criteria for selection take into account each player’s noteworthy contributions to both their club and the national side, especially during the historic Women’s World Cup in 2023. This acknowledgement is a testament to the outstanding performances that have elevated these players above their peers in the realm of women’s football in Africa.

20. Aminata Haidara

Best African female footballers of 2023
Aminata Haidara

Country – Ivory Coast

Age – 26

Position – Midfielder

Club –  Hatayspor

Aminata Haidara, though momentarily overlooked due to Ivory Coast missing out on major competitions, remains a pivotal figure on the pitch, particularly known for her ability to control the game’s tempo. The midfielder acts as both an anchor and a connecting force between the attack and defence, making her an indispensable asset for her side. Her standout performances were notably evident during the 2015 World Cup for Ivory Coast.

As Ivory Coast sets its sights on a more promising 2024, there’s optimism that players like Haidara will once again have the opportunity to shine on the big stage. Haidara, currently plying her trade in Turkey, brings valuable experience in top-flight football, and her seasoned presence may play a crucial role in shaping the team’s goals and aspirations for the upcoming year. As the Ivorian squad prepares for future competitions, there’s anticipation that Haidara’s contributions will not go unnoticed, and she’ll continue to play a vital role in the team’s success.

19 Juliet Nana

Best African female footballers of 2023

Country –  Burkina Faso

Age – 23

Position – Midfielder

Club –  Hatayspor

The 2022 African Women’s Cup of Nations served as the platform that propelled Juliet Nana into the spotlight. The young midfielder garnered attention for her exceptional intelligence and precision in passing while representing Burkina Faso, a team making its debut in the competition. Despite the initial argument that Nana should play in the midfield instead of a striker, her goal-scoring record speaks for itself, with over 25 goals in more than 50 matches for both club and country.

Although her move to the Turkish league has momentarily taken her away from the limelight, many, including myself, eagerly anticipate seeing more of Juliet Nana in 2024. With the WAFCON and the Olympics on the horizon, there’s optimism that Nana’s skilful play and goal-scoring prowess will once again captivate audiences, reaffirming her status as a rising star in women’s football.

18. Andile Dlamini

Best African female footballers of 2023
Andile Dlamini,

Country – South Africa

Age – 31

Position – Goalkeeper

Club – Mamelodi Sundowns

Andile Dlamini, the formidable goalkeeper of the South Africa Women’s national soccer team, deserves the highest praise for her remarkable skills and unwavering commitment to her craft. On the field, her presence is synonymous with resolute defence, showcasing not only her agility and quick reflexes but also an unmatched ability to keep the opponent’s goals at bay. Dlamini’s contributions between the posts undoubtedly make her a standout and invaluable asset to her team.

17. Ibtissam Jraidi

Best African female footballers of 2023
Ibtissam Jraidi

Country – Morocco

Age – 30

Position -Forward

Club – Al Ahli

Ibtissam Jraidi has solidified her place in history as the first Moroccan player to score at the FIFA Women’s World Cup, etching her name in the annals of the sport. Her crucial goal in the 1-0 victory during Morocco’s inaugural fixture at the 2023 competition not only changed the trajectory of women’s football in the country but also propelled the team to the round of 16, marking a significant milestone in their football history.

Jraidi’s lethal proficiency in front of goal is underscored by her outstanding record of 17 goals in just seven games in the Saudi Arabian League for Al Ahli. Her sharp awareness and goal-scoring prowess set her apart as a standout player. As the year 2024 unfolds, all eyes are fixed on the promising developments in women’s football in Morocco, with Ibtissam Jraidi emerging as one of the players to watch. Her stellar performances, both domestically and on the international stage, position her as a key figure in the exciting future that lies ahead for Moroccan women’s football.

16. Ngozi Okobi

Best African female footballers of 2023
Ngozi Okobi

Country – Nigeria

Age – 29

Position – Forward

Club – Levante Las Planas

Ngozi Okobi, a star in her own right, earns a well-deserved spot on our list despite not joining the Super Falcons of Nigeria at the 2023 World Cup. The pacy forward, currently showcasing her skills for the Spanish side Levante Las Planas, is an unmistakable figure on the pitch, displaying remarkable speed and talent. With a career tally of over 18 goals in more than 100 matches for both club and country, Okobi exemplifies resilience and serves as a capable support figure for a typical striker.

Her contributions to the Super Falcons were highlighted in the historic 3-3 draw against Sweden and her active roles in the team’s success, clinching the WAFCON title on four different occasions (2010, 2014, 2016, 2018). The recognition extends beyond the pitch, as Okobi has been named to the International Federation of Football History & Statistics (IFFHS) CAF Women’s Team of the Decade (2010-2020).

Following her recent move to Levante in 2023, there is a strong belief that 2024 holds even greater promise for the 29-year-old. The move to the Spanish league opens up new opportunities, including the possibility of a call-up to join the Super Falcons for the Olympics in 2024. As Okobi continues to make strides in her career, her impact on the pitch and accolades solidify her status as a notable figure in Nigerian and international women’s football.

15. Fatima Tagnaout

Best African female footballers of 2023
Fatima Tagnaout

Country – Morocco

Age – 23

Position – Midfielder

Club –  AS FAR

Fatima Tagnaout, a 24-year-old midfielder, plays a crucial role for Morocco and the club side AS FAR. Her standout performances at the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations and the historic FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 have garnered attention. Tagnaout contributed to Morocco’s historic World Cup run, showcasing her skills in passing and linking the team’s attack and defence. Anticipation is high for her continued excellence, especially after Morocco’s runner-up finish in WAFCON 2022. Tagnaout symbolizes the progress of women’s football in Morocco.

14. Hilda Magaia

Best African female footballers of 2023

Country – South Africa

Age – 28

Position – Forward

Club – Sejong Sportstoto WFC

South African Hilda Magaia, whose goal against Sweden would be fondly remembered at the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 for South Africa in the 2-1 defeat of the Bayana Bayana of South Africa in the group stages of the competition, is a name worth mentioning on our list.

The 28-year-old striker, who has netted over 40 goals so far in her career, currently plays for the South Korean club side Sejong Sportstoto WFC. The third-highest goal scorer in the WAFCON 2022 competition is a figure many would be on the lookout for in 2024 as her control of the game and her presence as a goalscoring threat would be crucial in South Africa’s campaign at the Olympics in 2024 if they secure a spot.

13. Refiloe Jane

Best African female footballers of 2023

Country – South Africa

Age – 31

Position – Midfielder

Club – US Sassuolo

Many think that if Refiloe Jane had been in the best of forms after her injury scare in the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 fixture against Argentina, the Bayana Bayana of South Africa might have gone farther than the round of 16 of the competition. Refiloe Jane, who currently plays for the Italian side  Sassuolo, is known for her resilience and creativity on the ball, so it is no surprise she was named the captain of South Africa. Her brilliance and leadership on the pitch are worth mentioning, as during South Africa’s WAFCON 2022 win and World Cup 2023 campaign, it was noticeable on the pitch. She kept her side together and, in the games, served as a voice of motivation, prompting everyone to put in the extra effort and shift on the pitch.

The midfield maestro is not a prolific goalscorer, but her control of the ball and her grace in leading the attack is why many do not underestimate her on the ball. There is more to come from Jane in 2024, and we are seated for more action and excitement on the pitch.

12. Ghizlane Chebbak

Best African female footballers of 2023
Ghizlane Chebbak

Country – Morocco

Age – 33

Position – Midfielder

Club –  AS FAR

Ghizlane Chebbak is who we can categorise as a living legend in Moroccan women’s football and African football as a whole. She holds the remarkable distinction of being Morocco’s all-time most-capped player and their most prolific goalscorer. Her leadership as the captain of the Moroccan national team during the 2022 Women’s Africa Cup of Nations, where they secured a remarkable second-place finish, and her continued dedication to representing her nation at the 2023 Women’s World Cup are nothing short of awe-inspiring.

With 12 goals and assists in 18 games at 32, Chebbak is showing no signs of ageing, as many expect her to appear again for Morocco at the World Cup.

In the 2022 Women’s Africa Cup of Nations, Chebbak’s goalscoring prowess shone brilliantly as she clinched the tournament’s top scorer title. Not only did she light up the field with her outstanding performance, but she also earned the well-deserved accolades of being named the Player of the Tournament and a vital member of the Team of the Tournament, demonstrating her unparalleled talent and commitment to the sport.

11. Halimatu Ayinde

Best African female footballers of 2023
Halimatu Ayinde

Country – Nigeria

Age – 28

Position – Midfielder

Club –   FC Rosengård

28-year-old midfielder Halimatu Ibrahim Ayinde, who currently plays for the Swedish side  FC Rosengård, has always been a constant presence for the Super Falcons of Nigeria in the midfield position, playing a vital role in maintaining stability during games for the Falcons in games. We didn’t get to see much of her potential at the World Cup 2023, but her role at her club side, FC Rosengård, is one that earns her a position on our list as she proved to be instrumental in her side’s campaign at the league.

Ayinde might be short on goals, but her midfield creativity has earned her a spot in the squad for both her club side and country since 2015. 2024 might be the right time to show how much her experience would be crucial for the Falcons, and we are excited at the possibility of what will come from her in 2024.

10. Antoinette Payne

Best African female footballers of 2023
Toni Payne

Country – Nigeria

Age – 28

Position – Midfielder/Forward

Club – Sevilla

2024 might just be the year we get to see Toni Payne run full riot at the club and national level of women’s football; her quick feet and skills on the ball in the role of the midfield were hard to miss at the World Cup 2023, Toni played an active role in chances created by the Super Falcons and one particular match that stood out for many was her role in the match against Ireland.

Toni showed her versatility on the ball for Nigeria, doubling up as a midfielder and drifting into the role of a forward if needed. She is a hoy to watch on the pitch and mesmerising whenever she moves with the ball. No wonder The La Liga side Sevilla features her in key fixtures for their side.

In four fixtures for Sevilla in the 2023/2024 season, she has scored two goals and recorded one assist so far. 2024 is looking up for the pacy player, as these stats show improvement compared to her previous season at the club.

9. Ashleigh Plumptre

Best Nigerian female footballers of 2023
Ashleigh Plumptre

Country – Nigeria

Age – 25

Position – Defender

Club – Al-Ittihad

The centre-back Ashleigh Plumptre of Nigeria is a figure that can’t be ignored on the pitch and with the ball. A force to reckon with in the heart of the Super Falcons of Nigeria’s defence, Ashleigh Plumptre stood out at the Women’s World Cup 2023 held in Australia and New Zealand, making timely tackles for Nigeria while posing as a threat in the attack during set pieces for Nigeria.

After the competition, she was one of the highly sought-after players in Europe following the fact that her contract with Leicester City had come to an end. A move to the Saudi Arabia Premier League side  Al-Ittihad had shocked many, but Ashleigh has proved doubters wrong once again with her form at the side.

The 2024 Olympics is another place many would want to see the Nigerian international shine. We are most excited about the uncertainty of how her game has evolved within the short space of time.

Many often ask Ashleigh her reason for choosing the Super Falcons over England, and she has always declared her love for Nigeria. Her words after the round of 16 fixture Nigeria vs England set the records straight, further solidifying where her allegiance lies. She said, “Knowing that I had Nigeria’s crest on my shirt and based on the reason that I’d chosen to play for Nigeria, it would have meant a lot (to win vs England), she said in the podcast. But just getting to experience that because we played such a good game, I am okay. I got everything that I could possibly have dreamt for in that moment,” she added. I just felt so proud being able to put on that performance with the girls that I was stood alongside. I looked up to the sky during the penalties like – well, the universe is gonna do whatever it’s gonna do -, and I felt in that moment I was so present and aligned with everything that was happening.”

8. Michelle Alozie

Best African female footballers of 2023
Michelle Alozie

Country – Nigeria

Age – 26

Position – Midfielder

Club –  Houston Dash

One of the biggest revelations for the Super Falcons of Nigeria at the World Cup 2023 was Michelle Alozie. The 26-year-old stole the spotlight at the competition as she proved to be a huge aspect of the midfield; her skills on the ball made her a menace for defenders whenever she’s on the ball, with over 20 career goals for both club and country in over 50 appearances, Michelle has shown once again that she is a figure you would not want to miss on the field of play.

Describing why she considered playing football amidst having a career in the health sector, she revealed that her choice was based on the fact that she often did what her older sisters did. She also opted for the sport when they chose to play football because she had always wanted to be like them.

Alozie, who works in the health sector, opened up about how it is easy for her to balance playing football and working. She said, “I think people are like confused when they ask me about my time management. But, if you think about it, especially here in the States, it’s kind of something that we’ve done most of our lives, kind of just balancing academic life and athletics. And so I think that like just my role coming from the college level and even club level. When I was a teenager, I just got used to living two lives, basically. That’s kind of what I still do now. I am just so thankful about working with Dr. Stephens in her lab at Texas Children’s. She is just so fluid with the time that I am able to come in because it is a really crazy schedule, so I am really thankful that she is able to work around my schedule.

2024 is looking up for the Houston Dash football star, with the Olympics and the WAFCON qualifiers both on the horizon.

7. Chiamaka Nnadozie

Best African female footballers of 2023
Chiamaka Nnadozie

Country – Nigeria

Age – 22

Position – Goalkeeper

Club – Paris FC

From heroics at the World Cup 2023 for the Super Falcons of Nigeria to heroics for her club side, Paris FC, in the Women’s Champions League, Chiamaka Nnadozie has had a successful 2023 so far as a goalkeeper. The Nigerian, who also received the nomination for the best goalkeeper in the French League, has been a figure that has continued to be in the spotlight for the right reasons.

With over 25 clean sheets for club and country under her belt, Chiamaka Nnadozie’s awareness of goals and reflexes makes her a notable figure in women’s football in Africa. Nnadozie’s calmness in front of the goal proved to be very important in the Super Falcons World Cup 2023 campaign as she made vital saves that kept her side in the competition till the round of 16 against England.

Many might question her run on penalties at the World Cup, but the youngster proved during penalty shootouts for Paris FC at the UEFA Women’s Champions League just how much her game has developed and evolved.

With experience, goalkeepers often improve, and Chiamaka Nnadozie is one player who has recently exhibited this on the pitch. We are sure that the World Cup 2023 was a learning curve for her, and as such, her return to the Olympics 2024 is what many should look out for.

6. Tabitha Chawinga

Best African female footballers of 2023

Country – Malawi

Age – 27

Position – Forward

Club – PSG

With 25 goals in 26 games for both Inter Milan and PSG in 2022 and 2023 alone, striker Tabitha Chawinga is arguably the most potent goalscoring machine in African women’s football at the moment. The Malawi forward who missed out on the World Cup has been PSG’s talisman in front of goal since the start of the 2023/2024 season. This is not far-fetched; her focus in every match is to score as many as possible.

Describing her football journey, Tabitha Chawinga revealed to the Guardian UK that her parents had initially discouraged her from playing football. She said, “I come from a rural district in northern Malawi called Rumphi and started quite young, from the age of six to seven. I played mostly with boys. My parents did not support the idea that I wanted to play football. They wanted me to focus solely on school. In Malawi, and in most parts of Africa, parents believe that you have to go to school for you to do well … I was the one that took my little sister, Temwa [also a top player in China’s Super League], to go and play football. Whenever I came back home, I would face the harsh law of my parents. They would whip me so badly. Of course, I didn’t give up. I told my parents that the day they stop beating me will be the day that I will stop playing football. They tried that to see if that would work and, of course, I continued playing football.”

Many have not had the opportunity to watch Tabitha play; her quality is much desired in Africa. Hopefully, 2024 will be the year of a difference and the year she can make much of an impact on Malawi.

5. Racheal Kundananji

Best African female footballers of 2023

Country – Zambia

Age – 23

Position – Forward/Midfielder

Club – Madrid CFF

Racheal Kundananji is as clinical as they come in front of the goal. With over 50 goals in more than 60 matches, the Zambian international is a menace in the presence of defenders. Racheal Kundananji almost missed the competition after she was declared ineligible to play for the women’s side; a gender verification test found that their natural testosterone levels were above those allowed by the Confederation of African Football. Things, however, changed in December 2022, as the World football governing body, FIFA, cleared her and deemed it fit for her to play at the women’s level.

Her appearance at the World Cup 2023 was felt on the pitch, with her getting a goal in Zambia’s 3-2 victory over Germany. Racheal, who currently plays for Madrid CFF, wants to continue her trail-blazing form at the national and club level in 2024. We are excited about the possibility of witnessing that.

4. Thembi Kgatlana

Best African female footballers of 2023

Country – South Africa

Age – 27

Position – Forward

Club – Racing Louisville

The highly decorated Thembi Kgatlana is a name that should be on the list of the best African women’s players of the year. Thembi Kgatlana of South Africa defied the norms and bounced back from a career-threatening injury to become a figure of Women’s football in Africa. She is a game changer on and off the pitch, a role model many in South Africa and Africa as a whole look up to.

The former African Women’s Player of the Year in 2018 is a figure on the pitch that excites and captures the attention of fans. Her flair was one of the reasons South Africa secured a ticket into round 16 of the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023. With over 40 career goals for both club and country, Thembi Kgatlana, who currently plays for Racing Louisville in the US, has taken it upon herself to break the gender inequality barrier and encourage more women and girls to participate in football.

3. Barbra Banda

Best African female footballers of 2023

Country – Zambia

Age – 23

Position – Forward

Club – Shanghai Shengli

A clinical finisher and a ruthless goalscoring machine, Zambia’s captain, Barbra Banda, seals her position as one of the best footballers of 2023. A notable figure in the Zambian national side, Barbra proved once again at the 2023 Women’s World Cup why she is considered one of the best stars ever to represent the continent. Like Racheal Kundananji, She had almost missed the competition after she was declared ineligible to play for the women’s side; a gender verification test found that their natural testosterone levels were above those allowed by the Confederation of African Football. Things, however, changed in December 2022, as the World football governing body, FIFA, cleared her and deemed it fit for her to play at the women’s level.

Many might wonder why it was compulsory and necessary for Barbra to be part of the national side; her records on the pitch make her a figure that the national side would heavily miss in her absence. She is the first women’s player in football history at the Olympics to score back-to-back hattricks in the competition. She is also the first woman to score two hattricks in one tournament, and her form was once again replicated at the World Cup 2023 when she scored two of the three goals Zambia defeated Germany in one of the shocking fixtures in the tournament’s group stages. She was also crowned Woman of the Match in her side’s 3-2 victory.

With over 70 goals in over 90 fixtures, the 23-year-old is showing no signs of slowing down, and 2024 might be a year to watch out for her as she is poised to make a move to the big leagues in Europe from her club side in China.

2. Rasheedat Ajibade

Best African female footballers of 2023
Rasheedat Aibade

Country – Nigeria

Age – 23

Position – Forward

Club – Atletico Madrid

From sublime crosses to breathtaking assists and unexpected goals, Rasheedat Ajibade has earned a spot on our list. The talented forward who often plays the role of a winger is one of the key players we believe has revolutionised how goals are created for strikers to convert.

Her match or game intelligence puts her in a league of her own as her crosses are often measured to wreak havoc in the heart of the opponent’s defence. Rasheedat is just 23 years of age, and the possibility of more experience as time progresses is one of the reasons we believe she would be an asset to the Super Falcons at the 2027 Women’s World Cup.

Her match awareness and creativity aside, the forward has also shown that she can score goals the same way she can create them. She recorded over 15 goals for Atletico Madrid in over 50 games, with many coming to the club in the 2022/2023 season. Rasheedat seems to have her sights set on evolving her game as a player, which we are also excited about.

1. Asisat Oshoala

Best African female footballers of 2023
Asisat Oshoala

Country – Nigeria

Age – 29

Position – Forward

Club – Barcelona FC Femini

An all-round football star and the full representation of African women’s football. Asisat Oshoala is our best female footballer of 2023. The Ballon d’Or top 20 finalist who plays for Barcelona is a player many can not stop talking about.

From breaking records to receiving award recognition and praise from some of the legends in the game of football, the Agba Baller herself is a force to be reckoned with and one of the figures that shaped and gave a face to women’s football in Africa.

The Nigerian international became the first African player to score in three consecutive World Cup tournaments with her goal against Australia that secured the win for the Super Falcons at the Women’s World Cup 2023.

Here are a few award recognition for the legendary figure of African football: Aiteo Award for Best CAF Player 2017; BBC Footballer of the Year 2015, Queen of The Pitch Award 2014; African female footballer of the year: 2014, 2016, 2017, 2019, 2022; African female player of the year 2014; Golden Ball of the 2014 African Women’s Championship; Golden Boot of the 2016 African Women’s Championship; 2014 U-20 Women’s World Cup gold boot; 2014 U-20 Women’s World Cup Gold Ball; Top scorer in the 2017 Chinese Women’s League

Oshoala was instrumental in Barcelona securing the La Liga title in the 2022/2023 season in the league; since joining the club in 2019, she has scored 90 goals in 93 appearances for the club. She has also scored over 30 goals for the Super Falcons of Nigeria.

Many might say Asisat has reached her prime; what we see, however, is a player who has gathered experience to dominate the continent at her age. Do we see Asisat shining in 2024? Yes, we do, and the Ballon d’Or 2024 might be her first top-10 finish at the award ceremony.

 

 

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