Written by Oluwaseun Oyediji
At the genesis of women’s football in Africa, Nigeria dominated the continent winning nine out of 12 Africa Women’s Cup of Nations (WAFCON).
The team has made it to every edition of the FIFA Women’s World Cup since the first edition in 1991.
The same year witnessed the first women’s football league in Africa, the Nigeria Women’s Football League (NWFL) which has produced major stars for the country like Mercy Akide, Perpetua Nkwocha, Vera Okolo, Rasheedat Ajibade, Asisat Oshoala to mention a few.
The West African giants in women’s football continue to dominate into the millennium while others play the catch-up role.
The dominance attracted clubs abroad as they signed players from the NWFL.
Equatorial Guinea at some point posed a threat to Nigeria’s dominance in Africa but it was but for a moment after winning two African titles.
Fast forward to 2021, the likes of South Africa, Morocco, and Zambia began to pose a serious threat to the Super Falcons’ dominance.
The same year marked the birth of a new women’s football tournament, the CAF Women’s Champions League after the COVID-19 pandemic.
Women’s football enthusiasts thought it was time for Nigeria which had hitherto dominated the game at the national team level to replicate same at the club level.
At the end of the maiden edition in 2021, South Africa’s Mamelodi Sundowns Ladies clinched the title over Hasaacas Ladies of Ghana.
Nigeria representative, Rivers Angels crashed out in the group stage.
This served as a signal towards WAFCON 2022 in Morocco.
Super Falcons faced South Africa in the first game and recorded a 2-1 loss and more painful was the semi-final penalty loss to Morocco after being reduced to nine players.
South Africa in the end won the title for the first time while the beaten finalist, Morocco also showed their mettle after a huge investment in women’s football back home.
South Africa and Morocco rivalry, the recent development on the continent women’s football landscape surfaces in the final of the 2022 CAF Women’s Champions League with AS FAR FC winning the North Africans’ first title on the continent after a 4-0 win over Sundowns.
It should be noted that Sundowns didn’t concede any goal in 2021 and only conceded five in 2022 against Bayelsa Queens (Nigeria) and in the final loss to AS FAR FC.
Debutant, Sporting Club Casablanca (Morocco) reached the final of the 2023 CAF Women’s Champions League in Ivory Coast but succumbed to a 3-0 loss to Sundowns.
Sundowns thus won two out of the first three CAF Women’s Champions League titles.
The win meant South Africa has won the last two women’s football titles in Africa; AFCON in 2022 and the CAF Women’s Champions League a year later.
Next year (2024), the South African side will be in high confidence to retain their WAFCON title and stamp their emergence as one of the best in Africa after Nigeria and equaling Equatorial Guinea feat.
With the “Jogo bonito” style of play adopted by Sundowns Ladies a replica of Banyana Banyana style as well as the players from the club forming the core part of the national team, another South Africa WAFCON beckons next year in Morocco amidst rivalry with the North African side.
While we look forward to the 2024 WAFCON, we congratulate South Africa and Mamelodi Sundowns for their recent success in women’s football.
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