The excitement around the globe this week has ramped up as the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand kicks on Thursday.

Four teams from Africa will take part in the global showpiece headlined by WAFCON (Women’s African Cup of Nations) champions South Africa with Nigeria, Morocco and Zambia hoping to show their quality on the biggest stage.

Ahead of action, we take a closer look into the prospects of the four African nations and how their World Cup might unfold.

South Africa

Also known as Banyana Banyana, the South Africans come off their first continental title in the 2022 WAFCON in what will always be seen as a groundbreaking victory for the emerging side.

Ranked 54th in the world and playing in their second World Cup, Banyana Banyana have been placed in Group G alongside Argentina, Italy and Sweden who are all ranked in the top 30 in the world.

Fixtures

July 23: Banyana Banyana v Sweden (3) – Wellington Regional Stadium, New Zealand
July 28: Banyana Banyana v Argentina (28) – Dunedin Stadium, Dunedin
August 2: Banyana Banyana v Italy (16) – Wellington Regional Stadium, New Zealand

Key:

() – Denotes world ranking

Key players

Attacker Linda Motlhalo has grown into a key figure in the Banyana set-up and is in great form after winning a league title with Glasgow City. Her exploits in the middle of the park will be crucial for the South Africans.

Up front, Jermaine Seoposenwe will be vital for the side through her versatility in how she can operate in her striker role. She emerged as an important player at the 2022 WAFCON after a two-year absence from international football.

Prediction

As volatile as football may be and even considering the impressive form of South Africa it will be an incredible feat if the side were to qualify for the knockouts. However, Banyana will be looking to rattle the cage and cause chaos in Group G.

Nigeria

The West African side known as the Super Falcons is Africa’s most successful team having qualified for every single edition of the FIFA Women’s World Cup. Their best finish was reaching the quarter-finals in 1999.

The Super Falcons are the best-ranked African side and sit 40th in the world rankings in Group B alongside hosts Australia, Canada and Ireland who are all in 22nd or better in the world.

Fixtures

July 21: Super Falcons v Canada (7) – Melbourne Rectangular Stadium, Australia
July 27: Super Falcons v Australia (10) – Brisbane Stadium, Australia
July 31: Super Falcons v Ireland (22) – Brisbane Stadium, Australia

Key:

() – Denotes world ranking

Key players

Veteran Onome Ebi is remarkably heading into her sixth World Cup and her experience will be absolutely huge for Nigeria. The 40-year-old centre-back is a rock for the Super Falcons but it is her influence on the team where she is crucial.

Attacking midfielder Rasheedat Ajibade or ‘The Girl with the Blue Hair’ as she claims will be a massive threat going forward for her team. She is loaded with skills and loves nothing more than winning.

Prediction

It is a difficult group for the Super Falcons with two of the top 10 countries in the same group. However, given the balance of the side and their experience, they have an outside shot at qualifying. It would take a perfect group stage to do it.

Morocco

The Lionesses of Morocco will make their debut appearance at a Women’s World Cup this year as they became the first Arab country to qualify for the global showpiece after finishing as runners-up at the 2022 WAFCON. The side is in Group H alongside Colombia, Germany and the Republic of Korea.

Fixtures

July 24: Morocco Lionesses v Germany (2), Melbourne Rectangular Stadium, Australia
July 30: Morocco Lionesses v Republic of Korea (17), Hindmarsh Stadium, Australia
August 3: Morocco Lionesses v Colombia (25), Perth Rectangular Stadium, Australia

Key:

() – Denotes world ranking

Key players

Forward Rosella Ayane is the chief threat for the Moroccans. The star plays for Tottenham Hotspur and decided to represent Morocco after playing for England at youth levels. She will be fundamental to the Lionesses’ attacking output throughout the tournament.

Young defender Nesryne El Chad is a spirited player and one of the powerhouses of the side. Her role in defence will be important as she looks to kick on during the early stages of her international career.

Prediction

Similar to the other nations, Morocco is overpowered in their group that consists of highly ranked sides. However, this team played better than their 72 in the world rankings at the WAFCON last year meaning there is always the chance a spirited effort could see them upset some giants of the game.

Zambia

Nicknamed the Copper Queens, Zambia are the lowest-ranked African side in 77th place. Despite being formed as early as 1985, the team will debut at this year’s global showpiece after a good run of form. They will be in Group C alongside Costa Rica, Japan and Spain.

Fixtures

July 22: Copper Queens v Japan (11), Waikato Stadium, New Zealand
July 26: Copper Queens v Spain (6), Eden Park, New Zealand
July 31: Copper Queens v Costa Rica (36), Waikato Stadium, New Zealand

Key:

() – Denotes world ranking

Key players

Goalkeeper Hazel Nali is a big reason as to why her side gets to play at the World Cup after her heroics in the WAFCON quarter-final against Senegal where she saved and kicked a penalty. It is a big tournament for the shot-stopper who will be eager to keep her side in with a chance.

Meanwhile, Lushomo Mweemba will be looking to continue her strong start to international football from the heart of the defence. Despite being only 22 years of age, the defender is tactically astute and important to Zambia’s campaign

Prediction

The Copper Queens do not lack passion and will be out to cause some upsets in their group. It will take some effort to reach the knockouts but the Zambians will need to be taken seriously by their counterparts.

Photo Credit: Soccer Laduma

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