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WAFCON: Everything about Women’s Africa Cup of Nations

You might know AFCON, but are you aware of WAFCON? Let’s learn everything about Africa’s football competitions for women.

The Women’s Africa Cup of Nations, fondly known as WAFCON, is a thrilling biennial soccer tournament exclusively for women.

This exciting event has been organized by the Confederation of African Football (CAF) since 1991. It initially served as the qualification grounds for African nations to secure a spot in the prestigious FIFA Women’s World Cup.

WAFCON took the form of a home-and-away qualification competition in its early days. However, the soccer landscape transformed in 1998 when it evolved into a biennial tournament.

Fast forward to 2016, and the event adopted its current name, the TotalEnergies Women’s Africa Cup of Nations, thanks to sponsorship support.

In essence, the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations is not just a tournament; it’s a celebration of women’s soccer prowess, an arena where nations come together to compete, showcase their skills, and make history on the pitch.

The journey from a qualification competition to a biennial spectacle has only added to the excitement, making WAFCON a must-watch event in women’s soccer.

Now that you’re watching AFCON 2023, it’s good to get familiar with the female version of it by reading this article on Women’s Africa Cup of Nations.

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Everything to Know about WAFCON

Women's Africa Cup of Nations
Credit: premiumtimesng.com

I think WAFCON is a great platform for African women to showcase their talent and passion for the game. I’ve been following the tournament closely and I am impressed by the level of competition and the quality of football. wish all the teams the best of luck and I hope to see more African women playing in Europe and around the world.

Mohamed Salah, Source: brainyquote

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History of Women’s Africa Cup of Nations

Let’s first review the history of WAFCON to see how women in Africa could reach this great victory.

The Genesis of Women’s World Cup Qualification

In 1991, FIFA ushered in a groundbreaking era with the inaugural Women’s World Cup tournament.

This marked the culmination of multiple trials dating back to 1974, prompting CAF to take charge by organizing a qualification competition for its member nations.

However, the initial editions faced challenges, with several nations withdrawing due to the unreadiness of the new developments.

A Transformative Decision by CAF

In a pivotal move, CAF made a transformative decision under the leadership of then-president Issa Hayatou.

They rebranded the competition, shifting its format to a biennial tournament. This involved the introduction of an 8-team group stage and a knockout stage, adding a new layer of excitement to the event.

Evolution of the Tournament’s Identity

Women's Africa Cup of Nations
Credit: sportnewsafrica.com

On 6 August 2015, the CAF Executive Committee aligned the tournament’s name with its male counterpart, renaming it the Africa Women’s Cup of Nations.

However, an intriguing twist unfolded as the tournament logo for the next edition retained the original Women’s Africa Cup of Nations name, sparking curiosity about the competition’s evolving identity.

Unforeseen Challenges: The Impact of COVID-19

The unforeseen arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 led to the cancellation of the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations. The ripple effects were felt across the continent, impacting both the tournament and its participating nations.

TotalEnergies’ Game-Changing Sponsorship

On 21 July 2016, TotalEnergies (formerly Total S.A.), a French energy and petroleum giant, stepped onto the stage. They secured an 8-year sponsorship package from CAF, breathing new life into the competitions and providing vital support.

Road to 2024: Draw and Qualification Unveiled

Credit: dailypost.ng

Fast forward to 6 July 2023, and CAF unveiled the draw for qualification schedules and procedures for the 2024 edition. The setting was the Mohammed VI Complex in Rabat, Morocco, with the much-anticipated commencement date pegged at 10 August.

The draw set the stage for an exciting journey towards the next Women’s Africa Cup of Nations chapter.

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Format of Competitions in WAFCON

WAFCON has undergone several changes since its creation. Let’s review WAFCON’s different editions to learn more about this female tournament.

Evolution of Qualification Formats

Home-and-away qualification matches characterized the early editions of 1991 and 1995. This format was necessitated by the adjustments both CAF and African nations had to make in response to FIFA’s new developments.

At that time, only one FIFA Women’s World Cup qualification spot was allocated to African teams.

Credit: africanews.com

Expansion and Restructuring: 1998 to 2016

The tournament took a significant turn in the 1998 edition, embracing a full-scale format with an initial eight-team group stage.

This change also brought an additional qualification spot. This format persisted until the 2016 edition, when a groundbreaking decision was made. Henceforth, finalists from each edition secured direct qualification for the FIFA Women’s World Cup.

On the other hand, losing semi-finalists earned the opportunity to compete in playoffs against their counterparts from the AFC qualification tournament for two spare spots.

Progressive Expansion: 2019 and Beyond

In a proactive move during an executive committee meeting preceding the final of the 2019 U-23 Africa Cup of Nations, CAF sanctioned the expansion of the group stage.

This expansion increased from 8 to 12 teams or 3 groups of 4 teams, injecting more dynamism into the tournament structure.

Defending Champions and Host Nations’ Privileges

WAFCON stats
Credit: andscape.com

At the beginning of each competition, the defending champion is granted an automatic qualification for the subsequent edition. Since the 1998 edition, the host nation has enjoyed a similar privilege, automatically securing a spot in the tournament.

Tournament Dynamics: 1998 to 2018

Between 1998 and 2018, the 8 qualified teams were divided into two groups of 4. Each team faced off against the others, with the top two teams advancing to the knockout stage.

This stage determined the champion and granted qualification to the FIFA Women’s World Cup every alternate edition.

Modernized Format: 2022 Onwards

The 2022 edition marked a paradigm shift, with 12 qualified teams now organized into three groups of four teams each.

While the format remained familiar, including the quarter-finals, it added a new layer of excitement to the knockout stage.

The top two teams and two of the best third-placed teams progressed to the knockout stage, where the quarter-finals winners earned direct qualification to the FIFA Women’s World Cup.

Repechage Stage: A Second Chance

Credit: News 24

In a twist introduced since the 2022 edition, the losers of the quarter-finals engage in the “Repechage” stage.

Here, they face off against the losers of the quarter-finals from the AFC qualification tournament for the remaining two available spots for the World Cup, providing a second chance for teams to secure their spot on the global stage.

Highlights & Achievements of WAFCON

Now that you know what WAFCON is, let’s see what countries and footballers have performed better during these years.

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Top Countries of Women’s Africa Cup of Nations

WAFCON scores
Credit: theguardian.com

First, let’s see the best winners and runners-up in the history of WAFCON:

Top Winners

In the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations’ journey, champions have been honored with three distinct trophies over the years.

The most recent trophy debuted in the 2014 edition, marking a significant moment in the tournament’s history.

Here is the list of the top three countries with the most championships in WAFCON:

CountryYearsNumber of Championships
Nigeria1991, 1995, 1998, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2010, 2014, 2016, 201811
Equatorial Guinea2008, 20122
South Africa20221
Source: Wikipedia

As you see, when it comes to dominating the WAFCON scene, Nigeria takes the crown as the most successful nation.

Nigeria takes the crown as the most successful nation in WAFCON
Credit: bestchoicesports.com.ng

Since the tournament’s full-scale inception in 1998, Nigeria has triumphed in a remarkable 11 out of 14 editions. It’s a testament to their prowess on the soccer field.

Best Runners-Up

The results among runners-up are a bit different. South Africa is the most successful country among the runners–up.

Here is the table of the top 5 runners-up in the history of WAFCON:

CountryYearsNumber of Championships
South Africa1995, 2000, 2008, 2012, 20185
Cameroon1991, 2004, 2014, 20164
Ghana1998, 2002, 20063
Morocco20221
Equatorial Guinea20101
Source: Wikipedia

Top Hosts

Credit: insidethegames.biz

Until now, 7 countries have been able to host WAFCON:

CountryYearsNumber of Hosts
Nigeria1998, 2002, 20063
South Africa2000, 2004, 20103
Equatorial Guinea2008, 20122
Morocco2022, 20242
Namibia20141
Cameroon20161
Ghana20181
Source: Wikipedia

As you see, Nigeria is the most successful country in hosting WAFCON.

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Best Goal Scorers

Here is the list of top goal scorers in the history of the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations history.

NameCountryGoals Scored
Perpetua NkwochaNigeria34
Genoveva AñonmanEquatorial Guinea14
Mercy AkideNigeria11
Desire OparanozieNigeria11
Cynthia UwakNigeria10
Asisat OshoalaNigeria10
Veronica PhewaSouth Africa10
Gloria Chinasa OkoroEquatorial Guinea9
Stella MbachuNigeria8
Thembi KgatlanaSouth Africa6
Noko MatlouSouth Africa5
Alberta SackeyGhana5
Adjoa BayorGhana5
Kikelomo AjayiNigeria5
Source: Wikipedia

As you see, Nigeria is the best country in terms of goal scorers.

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Best African Female Footballers

Credit: articles.connectnigeria.com

Now, let’s review the list of African women’s footballer of the year during the last two decades:

  • 2001: Mercy Akide, Nigeria
  • 2002: Alberta Sackey, Ghana
  • 2003: Adjoa Bayor, Ghana
  • 2004: Perpetua Nkwocha, Nigeria
  • 2005: Perpetua Nkwocha, Nigeria
  • 2006: Cynthia Uwak, Nigeria
  • 2007: Cynthia Uwak, Nigeria
  • 2008: Noko Matlou, South Africa
  • 2009: not awarded
  • 2010: Perpetua Nkwocha, Nigeria
  • 2011: Perpetua Nkwocha, Nigeria
  • 2012: Genoveva Añonma, Equatorial Guinea
  • 2013: not awarded
  • 2014: Asisat Oshoala, Nigeria
  • 2015: Gaëlle Enganamouit, Cameroon
  • 2016: Asisat Oshoala, Nigeria
  • 2017: Asisat Oshoala, Nigeria
  • 2018: Thembi Kgatlana, South Africa
  • 2019: Asisat Oshoala, Nigeria
  • 2022: Asisat Oshoala, Nigeria
  • 2023: Asisat Oshoala, Nigeria

Read More:

Hooman Wilkinson
Hooman Wilkinson
As a content creator and a football fan, I've always tried to write the right thing while being fun! I like Arsenal, Brazil, and CR7!
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