Spotlight on Africa in World Cup first round

Nigeria put in the best performance by earning the only point so far

In Summary

• Africa's women's football teams at the World Cup need to dig deep

• Chances of advancing to the tournament's final 16 for many are slim

Nigeria goalkeeper Chiamaka Nnadozie
Nigeria goalkeeper Chiamaka Nnadozie

Nigeria was the only African team to walk away with a point from the first round of fixtures at the Women's World Cup, leaving Africa's women with it all to play for in the coming two rounds. While Nigeria earned their single point from a scoreless draw with Canada, the other three African teams — Zambia, South Africa, and Morocco — all suffered defeat.

Only the top two teams in each group make it to the Round of 16.


The Super Falcons fought hard against Canada and earned a crucial point, putting them in third place in Group B. The group is led by tournament co-hosts Australia, who secured three points with their 1-0 win over the Republic of Ireland.

Randy Waldrum's team must win their next match to remain in the tournament. However, their task will be challenging as they will face Australia on Thursday.

If the West Africans draw in their next game and beat the Republic of Ireland in their final group match, they could still make it to the knockout stage with five points.

Although Barcelona striker Asisat Oshoala struggled against Canada's tight defence and was substituted late, she remains Nigeria's best chance of scoring in the tournament.

Goalkeeper Chiamaka Nnadozie was named Player of the Match after making numerous saves, including a penalty. She credited the outstanding performance to her overall confidence, and will need plenty of that in the upcoming game against the co-hosts.

Nigeria made it to the knockout round in the 2019 edition, and anything less than that in Australia and New Zealand will be deemed a failure.


The African team, Banyana Banyana, had a promising start to their tournament by scoring their first World Cup goal during a 2-1 loss to Sweden on Sunday.

Although they were close to achieving a historic draw against the European team, they conceded a second goal in the 90th minute. Displaying incisive passing and bravery in attack, the South Africans failed to clear their lines, allowing Sweden to make a comeback.

South Africa needs to win their next match against Argentina to have any chance of advancing to the Round of 16. Coach Desiree Ellis has taken a practical approach to the tournament, and the team's display in their first match shows that anything is possible against Argentina.

In their final group match, they will face Italy, which will be a tough challenge for a team making only its second World Cup appearance.


On Friday, the Copa Queens experienced a harsh welcome to the World Cup after Japan defeated them 5-0.

Zambia was outplayed in every aspect of the game as the Japanese team dominated. In the first half, Bruce Mwape's team put up a bit of a fight, but they caved in the second half, allowing four goals.

Zambia's defensive performance was riddled with errors, and the midfield lacked aggression and creativity, leaving their top striker, Barbara Banda, with little to work with.

This crushing defeat left Zambia at the bottom of Group C, where Japan and Spain have three points. Unless they can pull off an unlikely victory against Spain on Wednesday, followed by a win against Costa Rica next Monday, Zambia's chances of advancing in the tournament are slim.


Morocco also received a baptism of fire thanks to a 6-0 defeat by two-time world champions Germany, the biggest winning margin so far at the tournament.

The Atlas Lionesses were outmatched from the beginning, conceding the tournament's fastest goal just 11 minutes into the game. By 46 minutes, they were already down 3-0.

Morocco failed to pose any kind of threat to the eight-time European champions, spending most of the game on the defensive. Their next match will be against South Korea on Sunday, followed by a final group-stage game against Colombia on August 3.

Morocco will need to win against South Korea to keep their campaign on track, but their performance on Monday suggests that it will be a difficult task.

Additionally, African teams will need to be mindful of discipline in the upcoming rounds, as Nigeria and Zambia had players sent off for reckless challenges in their first matches.

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