Women’s football rankings: Oshoala, Kgatlana dominate December in Europe
Leonard Solms Special to ESPN
December 31st, 2020.
Two African attackers in Spain stood head and shoulders above the rest in December, as Nigeria’s Asisat Oshoala worked her way back to the top and South Africa’s Thembi Kgatlana also enjoyed a superb month.
However, there is a strong focus on France in the second half of this month’s African Women’s Power Rankings, with several African stars featuring strongly in the French Feminine Division 1.
The Chawinga sisters and Barbra Banda are absent from our Power Rankings as China is in the offseason, but are likely to reappear in our top 10 when the Women’s Super League returns.
Likewise, keep an eye on Ode Fulutudilu, who recently signed for Scottish champions Glasgow City after becoming a champion herself with Åland United in Finland.
1. Asisat Oshoala, Barcelona
Asisat Oshoala was a goalscoring machine for Barcelona in December, netting in nearly every game she played. Fran Santiago/Getty Images
Oshoala has had to fight for her starting position in an intensely competitive squad, but December saw her return to peak goalscoring form.
Oshoala began the month by coming off the bench and scoring in a 9-0 Primera División Femenina rout of Santa Teresa. In the UEFA Women’s Champions League round of 32 first leg, she started and scored in a 4-1 away win over PSV.
Three days later, Barcelona visited Valencia in the league and Oshoala was the star of the show. She played the full 90 minutes, scoring three times in a 7-0 drubbing.
Oshoala came off the bench for Caroline Hansen in the 72nd minute of the return leg against PSV, another 4-1 win. She replaced the same player in the 46th minute of Barcelona’s next league match, against Sevilla, scoring in a 6-0 triumph.
Back in the starting lineup to finish the year off, the Super Falcons star scored twice in a 6-1 drubbing of Deportivo de La Coruña.
2. Thembi Kgatlana, Eibar
South Africa’s Thembi Kgatlana has settled well at SD Eibar in Spain, with December seeing her contribute to six goals. Manuel Queimadelos/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images
Whenever fortune favoured Eibar over the past month, Banyana Banyana’s Kgatlana was at the heart of it all. In total, she picked up two goals and four assists in December.
The pacey striker started off with two assists in the 4-2 defeat to Deportivo. She then netted the winner in a 1-0 victory over Sevilla.
Eibar were handed a 3-0 spanking by Rayo Vallecano, but they and Kgatlana recovered in their next match — a 2-0 win over Santa Teresa. The 24-year-old’s opener was compounded by an own goal from Marta Parralejo.
Eibar suffered another 4-2 defeat against Valencia, but once again, Kgatlana provided assists for both of their goals to finish the year off in fine personal form.
3. Ajara Nchout, Vålerenga
Having topped our November Power Rankings, Nchout drops to third place due more to the blistering form of her African counterparts than any failings of her own. However, December was a successful month for her.
First, Vålerenga secured the Norwegian Toppserien title on goal difference over Rosenborg with a 4-0 win over Arna-Bjørnar. Nchout finished as joint-top scorer with nine league goals.
Then, Nchout’s extra time opener sent Vålerenga on their way to a 2-0 cup final win over Lillestrøm. Marie Markussen doubled the lead shortly afterwards and Vålerenga did the double.
4. Refiloe Jane, AC Milan
Refiloe Jane is all smiles, as well she should be after AC Milan went unbeaten in December. Jonathan Moscrop/Getty Images
The Banyana midfielder continued her steady start to life in Milan, playing the full 90 minutes in both of the Rossonere’s December fixtures.
Milan beat Fiorentina 1-0 and then Sassuolo 2-0 to keep the pressure on Juventus at the top of the table. Juve lead the way with 30 points from 10 matches, while Milan have 27 from 10 after winning nine matches and losing 1-0 to the current table-toppers in October.
Jane and Milan are scheduled to be back in league action on 16 January against Hellas Verona. First, however, they will play Fiorentina in the Women’s Super Cup semi-final on 6 January.
5. Marie-Aurelle Awona, Stade de Reims
December was a mixed month on the field of play for Cameroon defender Awona. It began with a clean sheet in Stade de Reims’ 0-0 draw with Dijon, but they were then beaten 1-0 by Guingamp. Awona lasted the duration of both matches, but picking up yellow cards in both.
Away from the hustle of French Feminine Division 1 action, Awona was one of three Cameroon players recognised in the International Federation of Football History and Statistics (IFFHS) African Team of the Year 2020 alongside Nchout and Gabrielle Onguene.
Reims head into the new year ninth in the 12-team league table, five points clear of the relegation zone. They will be hoping to put some daylight between themselves and the drop when they face European champions Olympique Lyon on 16 January.
6. Jermaine Seoposenwe, Braga
Seoposenwe has been consistently impressive for Braga since signing after a stint at Real Betis. December was not a particularly busy month for her, but she made the most of her time on the pitch.
Braga beat Clube Condeixa 5-0 on 19 December and Seoposenwe was arguably the outstanding performer of the day. From the right flank, the Banyana international was a key creative influence for her side throughout the 90 minutes.
Braga sit second in the Campeonato Nacional de Futebol Feminino North Serie with 21 points from eight matches, three behind Famalicão.
7. Elodie Nakkach, Dijon
Nakkach started for Dijon in their 0-0 draw with Reims and subsequent 3-2 defeat at the hands of Paris FC.
The Morocco international has played all 11 of Dijon’s matches so far in the league. They currently sit eighth in Division 1.
Nigeria’s Desire Oparanozie has been unable to contribute to the cause for Dijon since picking up a hamstring injury in November, hence her absence from our December rankings.
8. Easther Mayi Kith, Stade de Reims
Mayi Kith started alongside her compatriot, Awona, in Reims’ draw with Dijon. Although she missed the subsequent loss to Guingamp, she can be proud of her contribution to the cause in 2020/21.
Mayi Kith has played in nine matches for Reims in Division 1, lasting the duration in each one. At the age of 23, she likely still has her best years ahead of her.
9. Zenatha Coleman, Sevilla
Zenatha Coleman is a rare Namibian in European women’s football, turning out for Sevilla in 2020 and for Valencia prior to that. Alex Caparros/Getty Images
Namibia captain Coleman scored twice for Sevilla in November, and although she was not prolific in December, she continues to feature prominently.
Coleman came off the bench in their first three matches of the month as Sevilla lost 5-2 to Real Madrid and 1-0 to Eibar before a 1-1 draw with Real Sociedad.
The team fared better when Coleman started in their next three matches. Although they were thumped 6-0 by runaway league leaders Barcelona, that disappointment was sandwiched between a 1-0 victory over Levante and a 2-1 triumph against Granadilla Tenerife.
Sevilla lie eighth in the 18-team league and will be back in Primera División action on 6 January against Real Betis.
10. Sylia Koui, Le Havre
French-Algerian attacker Koui is honoured this month due to having scored for Le Havre against Lyon, albeit in a 3-1 defeat.
After the European champions scored three goals in the first 18 minutes of the match, Le Havre fought valiantly from then onwards. Koui’s 42nd minute goal offered some consolation.
However, against Paris Saint-Germain a week later, there was little good to report as Le Havre were thumped 5-0 with Koui in the starting XI.