This year's Women's World Cup in Australia and New Zealand will see an increase in African representation, with four teams from the continent making it to the 32-team tournament. It is an improvement from the last two editions, which had only three African teams.
However, despite the increased numbers, it is uncertain whether African teams will make a significant impact beyond the first round.
Morocco, Nigeria, South Africa, and Zambia are the four African countries participating. While Morocco had a historic run at the Men's Football World Cup in Qatar last year, becoming the first African team to reach the semi-finals, the expectations for African women's teams are not as high.
appearance in 1999 remains the best achievement for an African team in the
Women's World Cup.
Out of the 16 previous Women's World Cup campaigns, only four African teams have progressed past the group stage: Nigeria in 1999 and 2019, and Cameroon in 2015 and 2019. These successes show an improvement in women's football on the continent, but there is still a considerable gap compared to other regions.
Danny Jordaan, president of the South African Football Association, acknowledges the gap and believes it may take a generation or two to catch up properly. He hopes to close this gap by winning a bid to host the Women's World Cup in four years.
South Africa's team will be making their second successive appearance in the finals, while Morocco and Zambia will be debutants. Nigeria, on the other hand, maintains its record of qualifying for all the Women's World Cup editions, making it their ninth in a row.
However, Nigeria's dominance in African women's football has faced challenges, as they did not reach the final of the last Women's Africa Cup of Nations, which served as the qualifying competition for the 2023 World Cup. Instead, South Africa emerged as the victors after defeating hosts Morocco in the final.
Both South Africa's coach, Desiree Ellis, and Morocco's coach, Reynald Pedros, expressed optimism about their teams' prospects. They believe their players have improved significantly in the last few years and are prepared both physically and mentally for the World Cup challenge.
As the Women's World Cup approaches, African teams are hopeful of making progress and putting up strong performances on the global stage. However, they recognize the challenges they face and the need for further development in women's football across the continent.
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