Oshoala, Sabastine, and the top 10 Nigerian women players to watch in 2024

Oshoala, Sabastine, and the top 10 Nigerian women players to watch in 2024

  • 2023 was a beautiful year for Nigerian women's football as the Super Falcons impressed at the FIFA Women's World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.
  • 2024 could be an even better year, with the Olympic Games coming up in Paris and the Africa Women's Cup of Nations slated for Morocco.
  • EaglesTracker here highlights the top ten women who can make it a memorable 2024 for Nigerian football.

10. Jennifer Echegini

Born and raised in London, Echegini has spent the last few years playing college football in the United States.

Echegini was still in the University when she earned a call-up to the Nigerian women's national team, an opportunity she grabbed with both sides.

An exceptional 2023 saw Echegini become the National Champion with Florida State Seminoles, finished the season with 16 goals - tied for the eighth most in the school history, named the ACC Tournament MVP, and played at the World Cup with Nigeria.

Twenty-twenty-four promises to be even more special for the classy midfielder as she could be set for a switch to Europe, where she has been linked to Italian giants, Juventus.

And with the Super Falcons aiming for success at the Olympics and the WAFCON, Echegini will get enough chances to make it a memorable year for herself and millions of fans.

9. Nicole Payne

Nicole Payne played for the United States at the youth level before deciding to represent Nigeria at senior level like her elder sister, Toni.

She made her international debut in 2021 and took part in the 2022 Women's Africa Cup of Nations in Morocco but she unfortunately missed out on the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.

The 22-year-old full-back put aside that disappointment to sign for French giants, Paris Saint Germain in the summer of 2023.

Becoming a regular at PSG would boost Nicole's chances of playing regularly for Nigeria, and those will be the defender's top two targets as 2024 approaches.

8. Flourish Sabastine

Sabastine came to the limelight when her goals propelled Bayelsa Queens to win the Nigerian Women’s Football League in 2022, with the teenager finishing as the league's top scorer.

She also played a crucial role as Bayelsa Queens finished third at the second CAF Women’s Champions League held in Morocco.

Considered to be one of the best young footballers in Africa, Sabastine impressed as Nigeria bowed out at the quarterfinal stage of the 2022 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup.

The 18-year-old forward signed for French first-division women’s club Stade de Reims in October 2023 and looks set for an unforgettable 2024, as potentially a first team player for both club and country.

7. Deborah Abiodun

Deborah Abiodun was one of Nigeria's best players as the Falconets shone brightly at the 2022 FIFA U20 World Cup in Costa Rica.

However, Abiodun's most memorable moment in the green and white kit was her exceptional display against Canada in the Super Falcons' opening match at the 2023 World Cup, even though she was shown a red card in the encounter for an unfortunate tackle on Ashley Lawrence.

Abiodun's excellent displays in the second half of the year for the Pittsburgh Panthers, where she helped the side record their best finishes in the ACC and the NCAA tournaments, suggest a big 2024 awaits the young midfielder.

6. Oluwatosin Demehin

Tosin Demehin was a rock in the Falconets' defence at the 2022 FIFA Women's World Cup, where Nigeria conceded just once and topped a group that included France, Canada, and South Korea.

Head coach Waldrum saw Demehin's quality and competence, and, despite being only 21, the American tactician promoted Demehin straight to the Super Falcons.

The youngster put not a single foot wrong as Nigeria conceded only two goals in four games at the World Cup to become the first African team to stay unbeaten in the group stage of the Mundial.

Demehin is also a regular at Stade de Reims, and she scored her first goal for the club in a 5-2 away win over Lille on December 16.

With Reims pushing to qualify for the Champions League and Nigeria aiming to reclaim their continental crown at the WAFCON, it could be a fantastic year for Demehin.

5. Ashleigh Plumptre

After dumping England to play international football for Nigeria, Ashleigh Plumptre achieved a lifelong dream of featuring at the FIFA Women's World Cup, in 2023.

The former Leicester City defender was Africa's best left-back at the Mundial as Nigeria reached the knockout rounds after remaining unbeaten through the group stage.

Plumptre has stated that her next goal is to play for Nigeria at the Olympics.

While the Super Falcons are yet to book a spot at Paris 2024, Plumptre's brilliant form in the Saudi Arabian women's league - the highlight of which includes two hat-tricks - suggests Nigeria should have no problem picking up a slot for the event.

She will also be hoping to take part, as the Super Falcons aim to retain their African crown at the WAFCON 2024.

4. Asisat Oshoala

It appears that there is nothing new to expect from Barcelona forward Asisat Oshoala for one reason: she has achieved far more in football than any African woman has ever dreamt of in her life.

After a beautiful 2023 in which she helped Barcelona win the Primera Division Femenina and the UEFA Women's Champions League, while guiding Nigeria to the knockout rounds of the World Cup, nothing can top that, right?

Well, Oshoala can.

Her Barcelona remain favourites to retain their league and continental honours next year, while the Super Falcons will be Africa's biggest hopes of nipping a first-ever Olympic medal.

And an astonishing 7th Africa Player of the Year award could follow for Oshoala. What a year it could be!

3. Christy Ucheibe

After taking her time to settle in Portugal, Christy Ucheibe enjoyed her most successful year at SL Benfica, helping the team claim three honours and also qualify for the Women's Champions League.

In the colours of Benfica, Ucheibe became the winner of the Supertaça de Portugal, Taça da Liga, and Campeonato Nacional Feminino, all in 2023.

Ucheibe shone like a million stars at the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup, where she was Africa's number one tackler. 

Benfica remain the strongest side in Portugal, while Nigeria have been confirmed as the best national team in Africa for 2023, so 2024 could be an even bigger year for Ucheibe as she works to power her club and country to success.

2. Rasheedat Ajibade

Rasheedat Ajibade has always been the golden girl of Nigerian football.

She was still in her teens when she won the Women's Africa Cup of Nations title in 2018, the Nigerian Women's Premier League top scorer award in 2017, and the NFF Young Player Of The Year in 2018.

Ajibade made the Toppserien Team of the Season in 2020 and finished as the Women's Africa Cup of Nations top scorer in 2022, despite Nigeria ending the tournament in fourth place.

The former FC Robo star has grown in leaps and bounds since then, and in 2023, she helped Atletico de Madrid Feminino lift the Spanish Copa de la Reina trophy.

She was a crucial figure for the Super Falcons at the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup and is the current top scorer in the CAF Olympics qualifying series.

At 24, Ajibade is ready to shoulder the responsibility for both Atletico de Madrid and Nigeria as her club and country target silverware in 2024.

1. Chiamaka Nnadozie

Chiamaka Nnadozie was excellent for Nigeria and Paris FC in 2023 and was duly named Africa's Best Goalkeeper by CAF.

Interestingly, Nnadozie was not included in the CAF Women's Team of the Year, nor was she shortlisted in FIFA's final three nominees for the Best Goalkeeper award, despite her brilliance.

Thankfully, what Nnadozie loves is a seemingly impossible challenge.

The Paris FC stop-shopper knows that to be recognised among the world's finest between the goalposts, she needs to win the 2024 WAFCON with Nigeria, help qualify and impress at the Olympics, and guide Paris FC to the final stages of the UEFA Women's Champions League.

So far, she is doing an excellent job of it, making 2024 a crucial year for the 23-year old.

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