World Cup fever has well and truly begun as we eagerly plough through the group stages. This year, Nigeria, Egypt, Senegal, Tunisia, and Morocco were the African nations to qualify, with news of Nigeria’s fast selling kit making headlines worldwide.
But lately, people have begun to, rightly, question the dominance and global attention of men’s football in comparison to women’s. Quite frankly, most of us are unable to identify whether or not our country’s women’s football team even exists, let alone their skill level.
One step in the right direction, could be to catch on what is happening with international women’s football right now. The month of June has seen the conclusion to the qualifying matches for the biennial African Women’s Cup of Nations by CAF. The countries that qualified will compete for the cup from September to December 2018 and will also be the African representatives in the next Fifa World Cup.
Here are the countries that will begin to compete in Ghana in September 2018:
Ghana are the uncontested hosts of the cup this year, which means they got an automatic qualification. Their team has never won the competition but won second place three times.
The Women's Football Committee noted that @ghanafaofficial funds all their activities apart from the Sanford FA Cup which enjoys sponsorship from the hospital. Some of the challenges noted are finance, facilities and lack of support from the RFAs. pic.twitter.com/SekxZ73Nu3
— Ghana Football Association (@ghanafaofficial) November 27, 2017
The Algerian team is currently ranked 76th in the world in the FIFA women’s rankings. They are nicknamed “The Fennecs” after the fennec fox, a species of fox found in the Sahara desert. In 2019, Algeria is tipped to be the first Arab and Muslim nation to participate in a Women’s World Cup.
The Cameroon national women’s football team finished second four times in the competition, and competed in their first ever FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2015.
Congratulations to women soccer star Gaelle Enganamouit for your inspiration. #MadeOfBlack #MadeOfFootball pic.twitter.com/CEMwMfXXJE
— Mbenju Mafany🔵 (@mbenjumafany) November 9, 2017
Full-Time: Congo 0 – 5 Cameroon, Africa Women’s Cup of Nations #womensfootball #AWCON2018 #AFCON #WSUlive #soccer #football
— WomensSoccerUnited (@WSUasa) June 6, 2018
4. Equatorial Guinea
Equatorial Guinea, or the ‘Nzalang Nacional’, are two times champions of the tournament, in 2008 and 2012, but have recently been embroiled in a scandal that has led to their ban by FIFA in the upcoming women’s World Cup.
#AWCON2018Q results as they come:
Kenya 1-1 Equatorial Guinea
Lesotho 0-1 South Africa
Zimbabwe 1-0 Zambia (Rutendo Makore)
Images from Zimbabwe vs Zambia game. pic.twitter.com/YWAPoCwyT8
— IG: @LADIESMARCH (@LadiesMarch) June 6, 2018
Mali, named ‘Les Aiglonnes’ or ‘The Female Eagles’, and reached fifth place in 2016. That same year, the Fédération Malienne de Football (FMF), the governing body for football in Mali, created the first ever national league for women.
#Football : depuis ce jeudi 28 avril, le #Mali a son championnat féminin, avec 12 équipes en compétition pic.twitter.com/iebiafzaTa
— Africanews Français (@africanewsfr) April 29, 2016
6. South Africa
The South African team, nicknamed ‘Banyana Banyana’ or ‘The Girls,’ are returning to the tournament for the 12th time but have never won it. They got as close as 2nd in 2012.
Celebrations at the Dr Petrus Molemela stadium as #Sasol @Banyana_Banyana qualify for the 2018 @CAF_Online African Women’s Cup of Nations pic.twitter.com/dhUbL91P52
— SAFA.net (@SAFA_net) June 10, 2018
The Zambian team, or “The She-polopolo”, will be appearing in the tournament for the third time in the history of the cup.
FT' | Zimbabwe 🇿🇼 1 Zambia 🇿🇲 2
Zambia 🇿🇲 qualify on away goals#AWCON2018Q
— Zambia Women's Soccer (@Shepolopolo) June 10, 2018
It is indeed a Miracle day #ZWNT #Shepolopolo #AWCON2018Q Cc @JWsports1 pic.twitter.com/ZnFtkTtuM8
— Chipolopolodiehards (@chipolopolodh) June 10, 2018
The Nigerian team, called the ‘Super Falcons’, are the reigning, and most frequent, champions of the cup. Their striker Asisat Oshoala was recently named CAF African Women’s Player of the Year.
The Africa Women’s Cup of Nations begins in September, follow #AWCON2018 on Twitter for details about the tournament. Who will you be rooting for?