The 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand has been a historic tournament for the African teams, as three of them reached the knockout stage for the first time ever. Nigeria, South Africa and Morocco all qualified from their groups, while Zambia also earned their first World Cup win in their debut appearance.
Nigeria, the most successful African team with nine continental titles, topped Group F with seven points, beating Australia and drawing with Ireland and Canada. The Super Falcons then faced England in the round of 16, and put up a brave fight that ended in a penalty shootout defeat. Nigeria’s defensive solidity and attacking flair were impressive, as they conceded only two goals and scored six in four games.
South Africa, the reigning African champions, also advanced from Group E with six points, after a stunning 3-2 victory over Italy and a 2-2 draw with Argentina. The Banyana Banyana then met the Netherlands, the 2019 runners-up, in the last 16, and despite a spirited performance, they lost 2-0 to the European giants. South Africa’s star players included Thembi Kgatlana, who scored three goals, and Refiloe Jane, who provided three assists.
Morocco, the first Arab team to qualify for the Women’s World Cup, were the surprise package of Group G, as they finished second behind Germany with six points. The Atlas Lionesses beat South Korea and Colombia 1-0 each, thanks to goals from Ghizlane Chebbak and Salma Amani. They then faced France, the hosts of the previous edition, in the round of 16, and were eliminated by a 4-0 scoreline. Morocco’s goalkeeper Manal El Karkouri was one of the best performers of the tournament, with 23 saves and two clean sheets.
Zambia, the first landlocked African country to play at the Women’s World Cup, were drawn in a tough Group C with Japan, Spain and Costa Rica. The Shepolopolo lost their first two games 4-0 and 5-0 to Japan and Spain respectively, but bounced back with a 3-1 win over Costa Rica in their final match. Barbra Banda scored the 1000th goal in Women’s World Cup history, while Rachel Kundananji and Grace Chanda also found the net.
USA, Germany, France and Japan reach semi-finals
The four semi-finalists of the 2023 Women’s World Cup are the USA, Germany, France and Japan. These teams have all won their respective quarter-final matches, and will now face each other for a place in the final.
The USA, the defending champions and four-time winners of the tournament, beat Brazil 2-1 in a thrilling encounter in Sydney. Alex Morgan scored both goals for the Americans, while Marta netted a consolation for Brazil. The USA have been unbeaten so far in the competition, winning three games and drawing two. They have scored nine goals and conceded three. Morgan is their top scorer with four goals.
Germany, the two-time winners and eight-time European champions, beat Sweden 2-0 in Auckland. Amanda Ilestedt opened the scoring in the first half with a header from a corner kick, while Filippa Angeldal doubled the lead from the penalty spot in the second half. Germany have also been unbeaten in their campaign, winning four games and losing one. They have scored 11 goals and conceded three. Hinata Miyazawa is their top scorer with five goals.
France, the hosts of the 2019 edition and one of the favourites for this tournament, beat Jamaica 3-0 in Melbourne. Eugenie Le Sommer scored twice for Les Bleues, while Valerie Gauvin added another goal. France have won all five of their games so far, scoring 15 goals and conceding none. They have been dominant in every aspect of the game, with Le Sommer leading the scoring chart with six goals.
Japan, the winners of the 2011 edition and runners-up of the 2015 edition, beat Spain 2-1 in Brisbane. Mina Tanaka gave Nadeshiko Japan an early lead with a clever finish from a cross by Aoba Fujino. Spain equalized through Patri Guijarro’s header from a corner kick. However, Japan restored their advantage through Yui Hasegawa’s stunning volley from outside the box. Japan have also won all five of their matches so far, scoring 18 goals and conceding two. They have been playing with flair and creativity, with Hasegawa being their top scorer with four goals.
The semi-finals will take place on August 18, with the USA facing Germany in Sydney and France taking on Japan in Auckland. The winners will meet in the final on August 21 in Sydney, while the losers will play for the third place on August 20 in Melbourne.