African teams have a mixed start in Women’s World Cup

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Nigeria, South Africa, Zambia, and Morocco started their challenging tournament journey

Updated July 23 7 am

The Women’s World Cup 2023 is underway in Australia and New Zealand, with 32 teams competing for the coveted trophy. Among them are four African teams: Nigeria, South Africa, Zambia and Morocco. These teams have qualified for the tournament after overcoming various challenges and obstacles in their regions. But how are they doing so far in the global stage? And how do they compare to the expectations that were set for them before the tournament? Here is a brief overview of their games and results up to this point.

Results and match summaries from the first round

Nigeria vs Canada: 0-0

Nigeria faced Canada in their opening game in Group B, which also includes Australia and Republic of Ireland. Nigeria is the most successful African team in the Women’s World Cup history, having participated in every edition since 1991. However, they have never advanced beyond the quarterfinals, and their best result was a fourth-place finish in 1999. Canada, on the other hand, is a strong contender for the title, having reached the semifinals in 2003 and 2015, and winning the bronze medal in 2016 Olympics.

The game was a tight and tense affair, with both teams struggling to create clear chances. Nigeria defended well and frustrated Canada’s attack, while also posing some threat on the counter. Canada had more possession and shots, but could not find a way past Nigeria’s goalkeeper Chiamaka Nnadozie, who made some crucial saves. The game ended in a goalless draw, which was a positive result for Nigeria, who earned their first point in the tournament. Canada, however, might feel disappointed with their performance and outcome.

South Africa vs Sweden 1-2

South Africa put up a brave fight against Sweden, but lost 1-2 in their first game in Group F of the Women’s World Cup 2023. Hildah Magaia gave South Africa a surprise lead in the 49th minute, but Sweden equalized in the 66th minute through an own goal by Lebogang Ramalepe. Amanda Ilestedt scored the winner for Sweden in the 90th minute with a header from a corner. South Africa goalkeeper Kaylin Swart made some impressive saves, but could not prevent her team from losing. Sweden had more possession and shots, but struggled to break down South Africa’s defense. The result leaves South Africa at the bottom of the group, while Sweden tops the group on goal difference.

Zambia vs Japan 0-5

Zambia faced Japan in their debut game in Group E, which also includes Netherlands and Portugal. Zambia is the only debutant team in this edition of the Women’s World Cup, having qualified for the tournament as winners of the 2022 COSAFA Women’s Championship, where they beat South Africa in the final. Japan is one of the favorites for the title, having won the tournament in 2011 and finished as runners-up in 2015.

The game was a one-sided affair, with Japan showing their class and quality against Zambia’s inexperienced and overwhelmed side. Japan scored five goals without reply, with Mana Iwabuchi netting a brace and Yui Hasegawa, Mina Tanaka and Yuka Momiki adding one each. Zambia had no answer to Japan’s speed, skill and movement, and could not muster any meaningful attack. The game ended in a humiliating defeat for Zambia, who suffered the worst loss by an African team in Women’s World Cup history.

Marocco vs Germany 1-4

Morocco faced Germany in their first game in Group D, which also includes France and Thailand. Morocco is making their first appearance in the Women’s World Cup, having qualified for the tournament as winners of the 2022 African Women’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament, where they beat Cameroon in the final. Germany is one of the most successful teams in women’s football history, having won the tournament twice (2003 and 2007) and finished as runners-up twice (1995 and 2015).

The game was a tough challenge for Morocco, who faced a formidable opponent in Germany. Germany scored four goals through Alexandra Popp, Sara Däbritz, Lea Schüller and Melanie Leupolz, while Morocco scored a consolation goal through Ghizlane Chebbak. Morocco showed some spirit and fight against Germany’s superior strength and skill, but could not cope with their pressure and pace. The game ended in a convincing win for Germany, who started their campaign on a high note.

What to look forward..

The African teams have had mixed results so far in the Women’s World Cup 2023, with Nigeria and South Africa holding their own against strong opponents, while Zambia and Morocco suffering heavy defeats. The expectations for the African teams were not very high before the tournament, as they were drawn in tough groups and faced formidable opponents. However, they have also shown some glimpses of potential and promise, and have not given up easily. They still have two more games to play in the group stage, and they will hope to improve their performance and results. The next matches for the African teams are:

  • Nigeria vs Australia on July 27
  • South Africa vs Brazil on July 28
  • Zambia vs Netherlands on July 29
  • Morocco vs France on July 30

We wish them all the best and hope they can make Africa proud.
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