From the Scandalous to the Surreal: Africa at FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023

“Nigeria’s super substitute, Asisat Oshoala, scored the winning goal, sending her into ecstasy and the home crowd staring into the dark tunnel of shock and sorrow. The Super Falcons had shown other African teams that victory was not such an impossible dream.”

Australia & New Zealand 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup has served us a cocktail of moments. African teams at the ongoing soccer tournament have had their fair share of drama, with displays ranging from the scandalous to the surreal, further adding theatre and feverish excitements to a gathering of grandees in Women’s soccer.

Nigeria’s Super Falcons opened their account at the World Cup with a defensive style cast in clay and cement. Cautious in attack and watchful in defense, the team held the Canadian Women’s Soccer team to a goalless draw on Friday, July 21. The Super Falcons gave Africans hope that teams from the continent would put up strong showings. But that expectation evaporated just a day after.

Japan and Zambia came to blows on Saturday, July 22. The score was 5-0 by the time the game ended. Japan had executed a broad assault on Zambia’s defense line, leaving the African team with a bloody face.

On Sunday, July 23, South Africa went into the game against Sweden, urgently needing to repair the continent’s badly battered face. But the South Africans could only manage a goal against two from the Swedes. The African losing party would continue on the following day.

Morocco squared up against Germany on Monday, July 24, fully aware that their male counterparts had a superlative performance at Qatar 2022, where the Atlas Lions earned fourth place, a first for an African team. But the women’s team turned out to be a convincing failure by the time the referee ended the game, Germany having scandalized Morocco 6-0!

Zambia was back in the fray on Wednesday, July 26. The team didn’t perform any better. Spain walloped Zambia 5-0. The Zambian team had earned an unenviable record of conceding ten goals in two matches without scoring any at the tournament. Redeeming the African pride now rested on the shoulders of the Super Falcons from Nigeria.

Nigeria took on co-host Australia on Thursday, July 27. With the home crowd solidly behind the Australians, it seemed the Nigerian team would be unable to prise the lid off the Australians. It took grit and grace for the Super Falcons to triumph 3-2. Nigeria’s super substitute, Asisat Oshoala, scored the winning goal, sending her into ecstasy and the home crowd staring into the dark tunnel of shock and sorrow. The Super Falcons had shown other African teams that victory was not such an impossible dream.

On Friday, July 28, South Africa saved the continent’s face with a 2-2 scorecard against Argentina. They had taken the lead but failed to secure their backlines in the game’s closing moments. Africa snatched a needed win yesterday when Morocco recovered from the disgrace against Germany to record a slim 1-0 conquest against South Korea.

Earlier today, Zambia revved up its attacking batteries, prevailing 3-1 over Costa Rica. Nigeria kept a four-square solid defense to keep the score goalless against Ireland and book a place in the no-recovery round of the competition, the knockout stages.

Unless the other African teams shore up their back lines, sharpen their attacks, and show creativity and hunger in their opponents’ box, they may continue to swing between the dramatic and the disgraceful at the ongoing tournament. So far, Nigeria has given us hope that Africa will have something to celebrate at this tournament.

Images: Twitter (X), @FIFAWWC

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