Watch out Banyana, Kundananji and the Copper Queens are coming for the WAFCON

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Zambia and Madrid CFF forward Racheal Kundananji topped December's African Women's Power Rankings after a series of superb showings for both club and country.

In the month which saw WAFCON qualifiers conclude, the Copper Queens star is joined in our top 10 by one of her international teammates as well as players from Nigeria, South Africa and even Malawi, who will not be at the showpiece in Morocco.

1. Racheal Kundananji, Madrid CFF

Kundananji capped off a year to remember with a brace for Zambia against Angola, and goals for Madrid in wins over Valencia and Villarreal.

Having scored once for the Copper Queens in November's 6-0 WAFCON second round first leg qualifier, Kundananji followed that up with two goals in December's second leg, which also ended in a 6-0 drubbing and thus a 12-0 aggregate rout.

Kundananji then scored a goal which sparked a Madrid comeback in the Liga F clash with Valencia - the first for her team in a game which saw them battle from 2-0 down to claim a 4-3 victory.

In her final game of 2023, Kundananji once again opened the scoring for Madrid - this time in a more comfortable 2-0 win over Villarreal.

2. Linda Motlhalo, Glasgow City

Motlhalo was another player who impressed both for club and country in December, with the Banyana Banyana midfielder scoring a crucial goal to help defending champions South Africa qualify for the WAFCON, and continuing to play a key creative role for Glasgow City.

She converted a penalty for Banyana in their 2-0 WAFCON second round second leg qualifier against Burkina Faso, then teed up Kinga Kozak for a goal in City's 3-1 win over Hibernian. Next, she got an assist for Lauren Davidson in the 6-0 thrashing of Partick Thistle.

It has not been the best of seasons for City, who trail local rivals Rangers by eight points in the Scottish Women's Premier League (SWPL), but Motlhalo can look back on 2023 as a hugely positive year.

She played a strong role in Banyana Banyana reaching the World Cup round of 16 and in last season's SWPL title victory immediately after arriving in Glasgow.

3. Rasheedat Ajibade, Atlético Madrid

Nigeria were all but assured of a WAFCON spot by the start of December after they beat Cape Verde 5-0 in the qualifying second round first leg clash in the previous month, but they put it beyond doubt with a 2-1 second leg win, which Rasheedat Ajibade's stoppage time strike secured.

The forward then carried that form back with her to Atlético Madrid, where she scored in a 2-0 win over Real Betis.

Atléti are fifth in Liga F heading into the new year, but only one point behind second-placed Real Madrid and very much still in contention for a UEFA Women's Champions League spot.

4. Chiamaka Nnadozie, Paris FC

Speaking of the Champions League, there is one Nigeria international who has taken to it like a duck to water, namely CAF Women's Goalkeeper of the Year Chiamaka Nnadozie.

Apart from being the first ever player to win the continental shot-stopping award this month, Nnadozie also played through back-to-back wins over Real Madrid - a 2-1 home victory followed by a clean sheet in a 1-0 away triumph.

Locally, Paris beat Montpellier 4-1, but lost 2-1 to giants Paris Saint-Germain in the derby. Nevertheless, they have exceeded expectations this season by keeping pace with Lyon and PSG in the title race, currently sitting second in the table behind the former, though the latter have two games in hand.

5. Tabitha Chawinga, Paris Saint-Germain

Malawi star Chawinga continued her prolific start to life at PSG with a goal in the 3-1 UWCL win over AS Roma.

Chawinga now has eight goals in all competitions for her new club in 15 appearances, having joined on loan from Wuhan Jiangda at the start of the season.

The win over Roma was vital as it put PSG second in their group and on course to qualify for the quarter-finals as matters stand. Domestically, they will be five points behind leaders Lyon should they win their two games in hand.

6. Barbra Banda, Shanghai Shengli

Together with Oshoala and Kgatlana, Banda made the top three in the CAF Women's Player of the Year voting.

A year which saw the Zambia star score the 1,000th goal in FIFA Women's World Cup history against Costa Rica ended with her scoring for them in the second leg of the WAFCON qualifier against Angola to follow on from her first leg hat-trick.

Their performances in qualifying were a timely reminder that the Copper Queens should be counted among the favourites to win the upcoming tournament, particularly if Banda is allowed to play, unlike in 2022 when she was ruled out over high testosterone levels.

7. Toni Payne, Sevilla

Playmaker Payne turned goalscorer this month as she found the back of the net for Sevilla in their 1-1 draw with Athletic Club.

Bilbao had taken the lead in the 34th minute, but Payne's equaliser in stoppage time at the end of the first half effectively sealed a point for the side sitting sixth in the Liga F.

Payne was also part of the Nigeria side which qualified for the WAFCON, where she is likely to be a key player.

8. Esther Okoronkwo, UD Tenerife

Besides Ajibade, Okoronkwo was the other Nigeria player on the scoresheet in Nigeria's 2-1 win over Cape Verde and she found the net in some style.

Cape Verde had taken an early lead in the second leg and the Super Falcons had already squandered several chances to equalise. Nnadozie then thumped the ball upfield and found Okoronkwo, who headed beyond her marker and then cut in between two defenders before unleashing from the edge of the box to curl into the bottom corner.

9. Christy Ucheibe, Benfica

Ucheibe continues to fly the flag for Nigeria in the UEFA Women's Champions League and December saw her feature for Benfica in a 1-0 home win over Eintracht Frankfurt and then a 1-1 away draw.

Usually a midfielder - a vital link between defence and attack for the national team in particular - she was deployed at centre back in a back three in the game in Lisbon and will have been delighted to walk away with a clean sheet.

Ucheibe started both games and drew two fouls in the victory, with one shot at goal, which was off target.

10. Asisat Oshoala, Barcelona

Oshoala stays in our top 10 despite a less prolific December than November due to enjoying a moment to savour this month, her crowning as the African Women's Footballer of the Year for the sixth time.

The Super Falcons striker, who extended her record for the most wins of the prize, enjoyed another phenomenal year as she won her second UEFA Women's Champions League title with Barcelona.

Barça continue to dominate Spanish and European women's football and minutes in a team loaded with talent can be hard to come by, but this month, Oshoala featured in the 7-0 UWCL win over Rosengård and the 2-0 Liga win over UD Tenerife.