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WAFCON 2022: Who can end Nigeria's dominance?

July 1, 2022

Nigeria are once again favored to win the Africa Cup of Nations. But with the field increasing to 12 teams, some will like their chances to unseat the perennial champions.

Coach Desiree Ellis Südafrika TOTAL African Womens Cup
Nigeria are defending champions of the WAFCONImage: IMAGO

The Africa Cup of Nation has always been Nigeria's to lose.

The Super Falcons have won 11 of the 13 previous edition of the tournament, including the last three. They have a host of international stars, including Champions League finalist Asisat Oshoala of Barcelona Femeni, Rasheedat Ajibade of Atletico Madrid and Leicester City's Ashleigh Pumptre.

But there's reason to believe this year's WAFCON, which is being held in Morocco after the 2020 edition was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, might play out differently.

Their last title in 2018 was a struggle, needing penalty shootouts to defeat South Africa and Cameroon in the semifinals and final to be triumphant in Ghana. They enter this tournament winless in their last two international contests, a loss and a draw to Olympic champions Canada.

Those signs of vulnerability to an otherwise impervious team provides a glimmer of hope to the WAFCON field, which will be 12 countries for the first time. But given their pedigree, it will still take a lot to dethrone the perennial champions.

These are the teams with the best chance to snatch Nigeria's crown.

South Africa

The emerging power in African football, South Africa will hope that their investments in the game pay off this year. They lost the 2018 final to Nigeria via penalties but handed the Falcons their biggest loss to an African side in a 4-2 defeat at an invitational in Lagos last year.

The Banyana Banyana will once again look to star player Thembi Kgatlana, who finished as top scorer in 2018 with five goals. The Atletico Madrid striker is one of the stars to watch at this year's tournament.

South Africa's Thembi Kgatlana avoids a challenge from Rosa Antonio Manique of Mozambique during a WAFCON qualifier.
Thembi Kgatlana (middle) holds South Africa's hopesImage: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix/empics/picture alliance

South Africa have one of the best organized leagues on the continent. The Mamelodi Sundowns Ladies won the inaugural CAF Women's Champions League title in 2021.

They will hope that their recent successes propel them towards their first WAFCON title having lost five previous finals. South Africa more than proved that they can compete with Nigeria, beating the defending champions 2-1 in their first group-stage match.


The Indomitable Lionesses have been showing a lot of promise in recent years. They have played at the last two World Cups, reaching the second round both times. Now they hope to show their progress by finally winning the African title.

Like many teams, their preparations have been slow due to lack of competitive games. They recently lost to France in a friendly after a win and a draw against Senegal.

Gabrielle Aboudi Onguene of Cameroon purses her lips while running
Cameroon captain Gabrielle Onguene Image: IMAGO

Gabrielle Onguene and Ajara Nchout are the stars of the Lionesses. They have World Cup experience and will hope that their campaign in Morocco delivers another trip to New Zealand next year. And if they can finally stop the Nigerians from running away with another title, that would be the icing on the cake.


Hosts Morocco are one of the teams remaining with a faint hope of stopping the Nigerians from winning the title.

Since linking up with former Lyon coach Reynald Pedros in 2020, the Atlas Lionesses have risen up the rankings with performances that have been encouraging. They have not lost a game in 2022, winning five of seven including a 2-0 victory against Ghana's Black Queens.

Morocco national team coach Reynal Pedros pointing while his players stand on the sideline
Reynald Pedros (middle) has improved Morocco's chancesImage: IMAGO

Playing in front of a home crowd at the Prince Moulay Abdallah Stadium in Rabat should give them extra confidence against the continent's biggest teams. They upset Cameroon last year at the Aisha Buhari Cup, their biggest continental win to date. With Pedros' pedigree in the dugout, Morocco should be one of the sides to challenge Nigeria.

Edited by: Davis VanOpdorp