The final shortlist for the Women’s African player of the year for 2018 Confederations of African Football (CAF) Awards was announced on new year’s day as Asisat Oshoala (Dalian Quanjian FC, Nigeria); Thembi Kgatlana (Houston Dash, South Africa) and Francisca Ordega (Washington Spirit and Nigeria) all made the cut.
Oshoala, Kgatlana and Ordega made the top three following an impressive 2018 both at national and club level. Let’s take a look at how all three players fared in the last year for their respective clubs and national teams especially at the just concluded AWCON.
Oshoala would be hoping to make it a hat trick of the CAF Women’s Player if the Year Award and having won it thrice in the last four editions (2014, 2016, 2017) she will also be looking to equal the record of Nigeria’s female football legend, Perpetua Nkwocha (2004, 2005, 2010, 2011). However, the question on everyone’s lips is: “Was Oshoala’s performance over the last year good enough to retain her title?”
In the year under review, Asisat Oshoala’s 10 goals in 14 games helped Dalian Quanjian retain the Chinese Women’s League while also racking up 3 goals and an assist at the 2018 AWCON enroute winning the title.
The Washington Spirit forward returned from a knee injury and loan spell at Atletico Madrid this year enjoying a good run of games. Although she didn’t win any major honours at club level, she enjoyed a good run of games where she scored 3 goals having just returned to the team.
Her pace down the flanks, ability to run at defenders and take them on remains a major threat; constantly posing problems for opposing defenders.
It was this mazy run with a good blend of experience which earned Nigeria the penalty Oshoala failed to convert in the final of the 2018 AWCON. From her position as a winger, she bagged a hat trick of two goals, two assists and two Woman of the Match awards including the final against the Banyana Banyana of South Africa in Ghana.
There is no doubt that 22 year-old Kgatlana was the star of the last AWCON in Ghana, scooping the Most Valuable Player and Top scorer awards with 5 goals, 2 assists and 3 Woman of the Match awards as Banyana Banyana reached the final of the 2018 AWCON in Ghana.
Although scoring just twice for her club side in the United States this season, Kgatlana made it thus far on the strength of her AWCON performance as an influential member of a team that wrote it’s name in the history books as the first Banyana Banyana team to qualify for the World Cup.
Kgatlana has a strong case for the CAF Women’s Player of the Year title especially as her closest contender, Oshoala wasn’t at her best at the AWCON. So, its safe to say that she is very well on course to make history as only the second South African after Noko Matlou (2008) to be crowned Queen of African football.
However, the last time Kgatlana and South Africa tried to make history twice in one tournament it was Oshoala and her Nigerian team mates who ensured that didn’t happen by eventually lifting the AWCON trophy following a penalty shootout win over the South Africans.
The awards gala is set to hold on Tuesday, January 8th in Dakar, Senegal. But before then the question remains: “Who deserves to be crowned 2018 Queen of African Football?”