Barbra Banda's fine form boosts Zambia's Women's World Cup ambitions

Barbra Banda and Racheal Kundananji were in fine form in April, giving Zambia at least some cause for optimism ahead of the FIFA Women's World Cup, even if their defence is not yet on par with their attack.

It was a great month for Nigeria's Super Falcons too, ahead of the FIFA showpiece Down Under in July, as they not only recorded back-to-back wins but also saw strong individual performances from their players at club level.

1. Barbra Banda, Shanghai Shengli

Banda is in free-scoring form in China once again, and also chipped in for the Zambia national team, the Copper Queens, during the past month's international window.

The 23-year-old hit the back of the net in a 5-2 friendly defeat to South Korea on April 7. Zambia's defence remains a weakness which will require work to set straight, but they once again proved that they have plenty of firepower at the other end.

For Shanghai Shengli, Banda had some impressive performances in April, including in the 4-1 win over Jiangsu Suning in which she picked up a brace and two assists and the 2-0 win over Zhejiang in which she got on the scoresheet.

2. Racheal Kundananji, Madrid CFF

Kundananji was Zambia's other goalscorer in the 5-2 loss to South Korea and remains in hot form at club level for Madrid CFF.

The Copper Queens forward began the month with the winner in a 1-0 victory over Levante before going on to score the equaliser in a 2-1 comeback win over Sporting de Huelva.

She was also on target in the derby against Real Madrid, putting her side 2-1 up after 12 minutes, but she ended up on the losing side of a 3-2 defeat.

Although Kundananji only came alive towards the end of her first season in the Primera Iberdrola with Eibar, her second has been more consistent and she will likely have plenty of potential suitors in the near future.

3. Ashleigh Plumptre, Leicester City

Defender Plumptre had a fine month for Leicester, who have managed to scramble their way out of the relegation zone in the FA WSL after a disastrous start to the season.

Leicester clinched a crucial 2-1 win in a relegation six-pointer against Reading, in which Nigeria international Plumptre played the full 90 minutes.

After the international break, Plumptre scored in a 4-0 drubbing of Liverpool, a match in which she will also have been delighted to keep a clean sheet.

Competition for places in the Super Falcons side is stiff and Plumptre saw over the international break that she cannot take a starting place for granted. However, she made a major statement to Nigeria head coach Randy Waldrum with her performances at club level.

4. Desire Oparanozie, Wuhan Jiangda

Veteran striker Oparanozie returned to the national team and scored in the Super Falcons' 3-0 win over New Zealand, adding to the stiff competition for places upfront.

Her superb hold-up play allowed her to fend her marker off, and instead of looking for a teammate, she drilled the ball into the bottom corner on the turn with her right foot. It was a goal perfectly in keeping with the way she has been playing at club level.

Although she is a veteran at 29 years old, her intelligent runs and strength on the ball mean she has plenty of playing time left in her.

5. Anam Imo, Piteå

In Sweden, where Uchenna Kanu regularly challenged for the top scorers' prize during her years playing in the Damallsvenskan, it looks like Imo might be the Nigerian to contend for the prize in her absence while Kanu is playing in the NWSL with Racing Louisville.

In April, Imo scored the winner in the 1-0 win over Kristianstad and then went on to bag a brace in the 4-1 thrashing of Brommapojkarna, and another goal in another 4-1 win over Uppsala.

After five Damallsvenskan appearances this season, Imo has four goals at a rate of one every 108 minutes. The 22-year-old is already only one goal short of her total of five goals last season.

6. Asisat Oshoala, Barcelona

Oshoala had a reasonably modest month from a goalscoring perspective by her off-the-charts standards, but an incredible one from a team perspective.

She took part in back-to-back Super Falcons wins over Haiti and New Zealand, clinched another Primera Iberdrola title, and progressed to the final of the UEFA Women's Champions League.

The 28-year-old star striker scored a tap-in for Nigeria in the 2-1 win over Haiti and was also on target in the 3-0 win over Sporting de Huelva which clinched Barcelona's Primera Iberdrola title.

Barcelona will face Wolfsburg in the UWCL final after seeing off Chelsea in a tightly contested semi-final.

7. Refiloe Jane, Sassuolo

Jane remains solid and dependable in the middle of the park for Sassuolo, but the past two months have seen her find her goalscoring form.

The on-field captain in Banyana Banyana's WAFCON triumph, standing in for Janine van Wyk, played the full 90 minutes in Sassuolo's 2-0 Serie A win over Pomigliano. Jane then went on to score in the 2-1 defeat to Como.

In between these matches, Jane captained Banyana in the 3-2 defeat to Serbia, with some defence-splitting passes making her arguably the best player on the day, and is likely to be Desiree Ellis' skipper at the World Cup.

8. Gabrielle Onguéné, CSKA Moscow

Onguéné is looking as prolific as ever at the start of the Russian football season. April saw her net two braces - the first in a 4-0 win over Ryazan and the second in an 8-0 drubbing of Rubin Kazan.

Having scored five goals in 23 matches in the 2022 league season, the Cameroon striker already has six goals in seven appearances in the current campaign.

9. Francisca Ordega, CSKA Moscow

Ordega has also been amongst the goals for CSKA Moscow, with her goals coming in the same matches as Onguéné this month.

The Nigeria striker scored once in the win over Ryazan and twice against Rubin Kazan, reminding Randy Waldrum that she remains an option upfront.

10. Jermaine Seoposenwe, FC Juárez

South Africa's unsung hero, Seoposenwe had an impressive month for both club and country.

It got off to a strong start for her as she scored for Juárez in the 3-3 draw with América. She then showcased a masterclass against Serbia with some fine hold-up play and a goal.

Seoposenwe was selfless to a fault in the defeat to Serbia and looks likely to be a key player for South Africa at the World Cup.