Margaret Belemu #8 of Zambia in action during the Republic of Ireland WNT v Zambia WNT
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Everything You Need to Know About the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup

We cover all the grounds in the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup, from qualification recaps to star African players to watch out for.

The ninth edition of the FIFA Women’s World Cup is scheduled to be begin on Thursday, July 20th in Australia, who will jointly host with New Zealand.

It will be a massive opportunity for the lovers of the game to witness the best women football players in the world battle it out for the coveted World Cup trophy. Ten stadiums in nine cities will have the privilege of hosting the competition, with the final set to be played at Stadium Australia, in Sydney, on August 20th.

Thirty two nations from six confederations will be fighting for the crown. Among them, four will be from Africa. Morocco will be making their debut alongside Zambia, while Nigeria and South Africa are returning.

Here is everything you need to know about the FIFA Women’s World Cup.

Which African Nation has qualified most times?

Nigeria’s Super Falcons graced the first edition that was held in the People’s Republic of China. Since then, the West Africans have qualified nine times. The best outing was in 1999 in the United States of America, where they reached the quarter-final but fell 4-3 against Brazil.

The Black Queens of Ghana have qualified three times: 1999, 2003 and 2007, but have never made it out of the group stage.

The Indomitable Lionesses of Cameroon and South Africa’s Banyana Banyana have qualified twice each. The former’s best tournament was in Canada when they advanced from their group, only to be stopped by China who won by a solitary goal. South Africa fell in the first hurdle in the debut way back in 2019.

Equatorial Guinea and Ivory Coast have each played in the tournament once.

How did Zambia qualify for the 2023 World Cup?

Banda Barbra of Zambia trains with local children during a Zambia Training Session

Photo by Michael Bradley - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images

The Copper Queens had their best performance in the 2022 Women’s Africa Cup of Nations (Awcon) held in Morocco.

After topping Group B, which had the likes of Cameroon, Tunisia and Togo, the Zambians skipped past Senegal in the quarters but fell against Morocco in the semis. By virtue of reaching the semis, Zambia grabbed their maiden World Cup ticket.

The Copper Queens have been put in Group C with 2011 champions Japan, Spain and Costa Rica. Zambia’s first assignment will be against Japan on July 22 at Waikato Stadium, before playing Spain four days later at Eden Park. Their final group game will be at Waikato Stadium against Costa Rica.

In their recent friendly matches, Zambia hasn’t been impressive against European opponents, losing four, drawing once and claiming a single win. Japan and Spain are experienced teams and the best Copper Queens might get is a point against the Costa Rica side.

How did Nigeria qualify for the 2023 World Cup?

Gift Monday, Deborah Abiodun and Blessing Demehin of Nigeria pose for a portrait during the official FIFA Women's World Cup Australia & New Zealand 2023 portrait session

Photo by Chris Hyde - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images

The Super Falcons were favorites in the 2022 AWCON. However, they managed to finish second in Group C and did well to stop Cameroon in the last eight and secure their ninth World Cup ticket.

In the World Cup, Nigeria have been placed in Group B which is seen as the “group of death.” Nigeria will open their campaign on July 21 against Canada at the Melbourne Rectangular Stadium, then play Australia and Republic of Ireland on July 27 and 31 respectively at the Brisbane Stadium.

Despite being in a tricky group, the quality within the squad is encouraging and the Super Falcons stand a chance of finishing at least in the top two seasons. In the past five build-up matches against opponents from abroad, the Super Eagles have managed three wins and lost two. The wins have come in the last three outings against Costa Rica, Haiti, and New Zealand.

How did South Africa qualify for the 2023 World Cup?

Players of South Africa warm up during a South Africa Training Session on July 17, 2023

Photo by Maja Hitij - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images

Banyana Banyana have been on the rise, and the 2022 AWCON was just a massive opportunity to show how they have grown.

They topped Group C in Morocco and went all the way to the final where they beat hosts Morocco 2-1 to be crowned. It was their first continental crown for them after winning all the six games in the tournament. By reaching the semi-final, South Africa had done enough to seal their place at the World Cup.

Banyana Banyana have been placed in Group G; their first game will be staged at the Wellington Regional Stadium on July 23 against 2003 runner up Sweden. The second assignment will be against Argentina on July 27 at Dunedin Stadium before concluding against Italy at the Wellington Stadium on August 2.

In the last four matches against the European teams, Banyana have won just once, losing twice and drawing once. Despite their good showing in the continent, it will be tough for the Banyana Banyana to make it to the next round.

How did Morocco qualify for the 2023 World Cup?

Just like Zambia, The Lionesses of Atlas are making their debut in the prestigious global competition. Morocco won their entire Group A matches in the 2022 AWCON to make it to the quarter final of the biennial competition.

In the last eight hurdle, they defeated Botswana to advance to the last four and secure their right to play in the World Cup.

Morocco have been placed in Group H; their first match will be on July 24 against two-time champions Germany at the Melbourne Rectangular Stadium. Their second game will come six days later at Hindmarsh Stadium, Adelaide against the Korea Republic before winding up their group assignments at Perth Rectangular Stadium against Colombia.

The Atlas Lionesses have engaged in five build-up matches against European teams. They have lost two games, won as many, and drawn once. Their chances for a top-two finish are good if the aforementioned results should be considered.

African Stars to Watch out For

Barbra Banda – Zambia

Barbra Banda of Zambia controls the ball during the Women's international friendly between Germany

Photo by Roland Krivec/DeFodi Images via Getty Images

The striker hit the headlines with her showings in the 2020 Olympics in Japan, where she scored goals for fun and became the first player in Women’s Olympic Football Tournament history to score back-to-back hat-tricks. As a result, she was locked out of AWCON for "gender verification tests," before later on getting the green light to play in the World Cup.

At just 23, she is a key player for the Copper Queens, most natural and prolific goal scorer. Even if Zambia might not get out of their pool, be rest assured the Shanghai Shengli forward will get some goals.

Asisat Oshoala – Nigeria

Asisat Oshoala of Nigeria poses for a portrait during the official FIFA Women's World Cup

Photo by Justin Setterfield - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images

For sure, you cannot mention the Super Falcons without Oshoala coming in. Whether she is Africa’s all-time greatest player or not is a topic for another day. What stands out is what the 28-year-old Barcelona goal machine has managed to achieve.

It is safe to say hopes of Nigeria making it out of their pool will be on the shoulders of the versatile attacker. She is a serial winner whose mentality will help carry the team through.

Thembi Kgatlana – South Africa

Thembi Kgatlana of South Africa looks on during the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup

Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

The 2018 CAF Women’s Player of the Year has been a hit for the likes of Beijing BG Phoenix, Atletico Madrid, and Houston Dash. The forward, who is currently at Racing Louisville, was injured in the final group game in 2022 Awcon and missed the final and eventual crowning.

However, she will have to improve her conversion rate, having scored just one goal in her last eight league matches in the USA’s top-flight football.

Ghizlane Chebbak – Morocco

Morocco's forward Ghizlane Chebbak runs with the ball during the 2022 Women's Africa Cup of Nations semi-final football match between Morocco and Nigeria

Photo by -/AFP viaGetty Images

The 32-year-old midfielder is literally the backbone of the Atlas Lionesses owing to her experience. In the 2022 AWCON, she scored three goals in four matches, and has found the target once in the last five build-ups.

Her ease in controlling the ball in midfield and initiating attacks has made the fans sing her name on several occasions, as seen in the recent AWCON.

The winner of the competition will walk away with $110 million, and Africans surely hope their representatives can defy the odds and go all the way to bring the trophy home.