Friday 29 April 2022, 20:00

Path to 2023 laid out for African women’s hopefuls

  • The draw for the CAF Women’s Africa Cup of Nations took place today in Morocco

  • Holders Nigeria pitted against Burundi, Botswana and 2018 final opponents South Africa

  • The tournament offers four guaranteed spots at next year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup

The route to the FIFA Women's World Cup Australia & New Zealand 2023™ was mapped out today as the Moroccan capital of Rabat played host to the draw for the 2022 CAF Women’s Africa Cup of Nations (WAFCON).

The continental showpiece, which takes place between 2 and 23 July 2022, offers a record-high four automatic berths at next year’s global finals Down Under and two additional spots in the intercontinental play-offs.

Eleven-time champions Nigeria will, as always, be among the favourites, while four nations - Botswana, Burundi, Burkina Faso and Togo – will be competing at the WAFCON for the first time.

The hopefuls

Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda and Zambia are the teams taking part.

The holders

Having maintained an iron grip on the WAFCON, winning 11 of the tournament’s 13 editions – including each of the last three – Nigeria will once again be seen as the team to beat.

Nigeria during the 2022 Africa Women Cup of Nations qualifier match between Nigeria and Ghana at Mobolaji Johnson Arena on October 20, 2021

The hosts

Morocco are staging the WAFCON for the first time and returning to compete in the competition after a 22-year absence.

5 players to watch

  • Barbra Banda (ZAM): Zambia’s striking sensation will be eager to impress again on the big stage, having made history last year by becoming the first player to score back-to-back hat-tricks at the Women’s Olympic Football Tournament. The Copper Queens only just squeezed through to the WAFCON without their injured talisman, and will be relying heavily on Banda to fire them to a maiden FIFA Women’s World Cup.

  • Thembi Kgatlana (RSA): Player of the Tournament and top scorer at the last WAFCON in 2018, this talented striker is now starring for Atletico Madrid and will be crucial to Banyana Banyana’s hopes of landing their first African title and securing a second successive spot at the global finals.

  • Ajara Nchout (CMR): Scorer of a sumptuous, FIFA Puskas Award-nominated goal at the last FIFA Women’s World Cup, the Cameroon star is in fine scoring form for Inter Milan in Italy and seems sure to be one of the most feared attackers on display at the African finals. Nchout, incidentally, was one of the two draw assistants in Rabat today, overseeing proceedings alongside the celebrated Moroccan Olympic gold medal-winning athlete, Nawal El Moutawakel.

  • Mariem Houij (TUN): This 27-year-old striker is in the form of her life. Having finished as joint-leading markswoman in the WAFCON qualifiers with six goals, the Tunisia star is closing in on the 30-mark for her club, ALG Spor, and leads the Turkish top flight’s scoring chart.

  • Asisat Oshoala (NGA): A four-time African Women’s Footballer of the Year, Oshoala is still just 27 and continues to hit new heights with the world’s pre-eminent club side. The Nigeria skipper is, in fact, the top scorer for European champions Barcelona in this season’s Primera Division and will take some stopping as she chases a fourth WAFCON winner’s medal.