The Football Giants of Africa
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Africa, popularly called the mother continent, is home to many talented female athletes. A good number of female players scattered all over the world trace their roots down to Africa.
Let’s take a deep dive into the backstory of some of these players to see how they got to where they are.
Female football has taken the world by storm, with some of the best players being African. Here are five of the best African players who are currently overseas.
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Asisat Oshoala is a Nigerian football player who plays for FC Barcelona, one of the most prominent clubs in female football. She plays as a striker in the Spanish Primera Division.
Oshoala was born in Lagos, Nigeria, on October 9, 1994. Born and bred in Nigeria, the 29-year-old player has set out to be a world-class personality in professional female football.
Earlier in her career, she started playing for teams in Nigeria, including FC Robo in Lagos State and Rivers Angels in Rivers State.
Oshoala’s time at Liverpool was a success. She scored three goals in 12 appearances for the club between 2015 and 2016.
Her impressive performances led to a move to Arsenal Ladies in 2016, where she won the Women’s FA Cup in her first season.
In 2017, she signed with the Chinese Women’s Super League team Dalian Quanjian, where she won the league title and was named the league’s best striker.
In 2019, Oshoala moved to FC Barcelona, where she has continued to impress with her pace and finishing ability. She has scored over 50 goals for the club. She has also won the Spanish Primera Division, the Copa de la Reina, and the UEFA Women’s Champions League.
2. Thembi Kgatlana (South Africa)
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Thembi Kgatlana is a South African football player who plays as a forward for Racing Louisville FC in Louisville, Kentucky.
Kgatlana was born in Johannesburg, South Africa, on October 2, 1996.
Her career started at the University of the Western Cape in Cape Town, South Africa, where she trained.
In February 2018, her former coach Vera Pauw moved her to play for Houston Dash in the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) in the United States.
The following year, in February 2019, Kgatlana signed a one-year deal with Beijing BG Phoenix FC in the Chinese Women’s Super League.
Kgatlana’s performances in Houston Dash and Beijing BG Phoenix caught the attention of SL Benfica in Portugal. There she signed a two-year deal in January 2020. She immediately impacted the club, scoring nine goals in 16 appearances and helping Benfica win the league title.
These results, for the first time, qualified the club for the UEFA Women’s Champions League.
However, Kgatlana’s time with Benfica was short-lived due to the salary reduction of female players in Portugal and the COVID-19 crisis.
In July 2020, Kgatlana joined SD Eibar, a Spanish Primera division club. She continued her goal-scoring spree in this club, where she immediately became the center of attraction.
Being increasingly popular, Kgatlana switched to Atletico Madrid in 2021, with a contract running until 2024. She has already impacted the club, scoring two goals in her first four appearances.
Finally, in July 2022, Racing Louisville FC paid a transfer fee for Kgatlana to play with them for two years. She currently plays with the team as a forward.
3. Tabitha Chawinga (Malawi)
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Tabitha Chawinga is a Malawian football player who plays for the Italian Serie A club Inter Milan.
Born in Lilongwe, Malawi, on May 22, 1966, the young player has constantly placed herself on the path to success.
She started playing football at 5. She began her career at 13, playing for DD Sunshine in Lilongwe, Malawi. Five years later, at 18, she moved on to play for Kvarnsvedens IK in Sweden.
Chawinga’s performances for Kvarnsvedens IK were exceptional. She scored 26 goals in her first and 32 in her second season. Her performances caught the attention of the Chinese Women’s Super League team Wuhan Jianghan University, where she signed a two-year deal in 2018.
Since moving to China, Chawinga has continued to impress. She scored over 40 goals for the club and won the Chinese Women’s Super League in 2019. She was also named the league’s top scorer and Player of the Year in the same season.
In 2022, Chawinga was loaned to Italian Serie A club Inter Milan, where she plays as a forward.
4. Gäelle Enganamouit (Cameroon)
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Gäelle Enganamouit is a Cameroonian football player. She played for the Spanish club Málaga CF in the Primera División B. She also played in the Cameroon women’s national football team.
Enganamouit was born on June 9, 1992, in Yaoundé, Cameroon. She started her career playing for Lorema Yaoundé football club in Cameroon between 2009 and 2012.
Enganamouit moved to play in the Serbian League for Spartak Subotica in 2012. She represented the team with her appearance in the UEFA Champions League.
While in Spartak, Enganamouit notably scored a record-breaking goal in women’s football history just two seconds after the commencement of the game.
Enganamouit is also a player for the Cameroonian national team. She played for the team at the Summer Olympics in 2012. She transferred to Swedish football with Eskilstuna United DFF the following year.
Enganamouit was the highest goalscorer in Damallsvenskan as of 2015. She scored 18 goals, bringing Eskilstuna to second place in their title series. Her wins qualified Eskilstuna for the UEFA Women’s Championship for the first time.
She also won the shooting league in Damallsvenskan. Enganamouit played with this team for two years, after which she signed for FC Rosengård.
Representing Cameroon at the 2015 Women’s World Cup in Canada, she scored a hat-trick of six goals to nil win over Ecuador. Canadian fans nicknamed her the ”Freight Train” owing to her strength and drive while playing.
Another notable success of 2015 was Enganamouit becoming the first Cameroonian female player to win the CAF Africa Women’s Player of the Year award.
In November 2015, Enganamouit signed a two-year contract with FC Rosengård.
In 2016, she was nominated for the BBC Women’s Footballer of the Year award, along with Amandine Henry, Kim Little, Carli Lloyd, and Becky Sauerbrunn.
Unfortunately, on the season’s opening day in 2016, Enganamouit injured her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). That was expected to rule her out for the entire campaign.
However, the injury did not stop her, as she still played more matches.
Dalian Quanjian FC signed Enganamouit in February 2017. There she played for a year before moving to Avaldsnes, IL.
Playing with Avaldsnes IL for just one year, Enganamouit made her final move to Málaga FC in 2019. She eventually parted ways with Málaga FC in April 2019.
During her career, she developed a knee injury that left her handicapped, affecting her stats over three years.
Finally, on June 9, 2020, Enganamouit announced her early retirement from football.
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Francisca Ordega is a Nigerian footballer. She currently plays as a forward for CSKA Moscow at the Russian Women’s football championships.
Ordega was born in Benue State, Nigeria, on October 19, 1993.
She began her career playing locally with the Bayelsa Queens team. In 2008, she was moved to represent the team in the Nigerian Women’s Championship.
Soon after, Ordega moved to a top-ranking club in Nigeria, the Rivers Angels. She continued to represent them in the Nigerian Women’s Championship.
In 2012, Ordega signed with a Russian club, Rossiyanka, in the Russian Women’s Football Championship. She then mutually parted ways with the club a few months later.
Her impressive performances caught the attention of a Swedish Damallsvenskan club, Piteå IF. In 2013, she signed a contract with the club. While with Piteå IF, she made 34 appearances and scored four goals.
Two years later, Ordega joined Washington’s Spirit in the National Women’s Soccer League. Her first season with the team was exceptional, where she made two assists and scored three goals.
Most notably, Ordega carried the team to its first NWSL championship with her memorable goal in the semifinals.
In 2017, Ordega suffered a knee injury. That limited her play time during the season. However, she went on to score fourextra goals in 14 appearances.
Ordega was then loaned to play with Atletico Madrid in October 2017. That was a six-month loan where she performed brilliantly for the team.
In 2019, Ordega was on-boarded into the Shanghai WFC on a one-year contract.
In 2021, Ordega moved to Levante UD with a contract lasting until 2023. This move was short-lived, as she transferred to CSKA Moscow five months into the contract. She has already begun making an impact on the team.
However, these players are given less credit than they are due, owing to the little attention the sport receives.
We look forward to a future where women’s football will be as appreciated as men’s football.