Here are five players to keep an eye on during the FIFA Women's World Cup....
By Marcus Orubebe
When the FIFA Women’s World Cup kicks off in Australia and New Zealand on Thursday, the spotlight will be on the top female footballers in the world.
Here are five players to keep an eye on during the FIFA Women’s World Cup:
- Alexia Putellas (Spain) – Considered by many as the world’s best women’s footballer, this 29-year-old attacking midfielder has received numerous accolades, including winning the Women’s Ballon d’Or for the past two years. Despite a serious knee injury that sidelined her in the latter half of the year, she was crowned The Best FIFA Women’s Player for 2022. As the first woman to reach 100 caps for Spain, her absence was felt during the 2022 European Championship, where Spain lost to England in the quarter-finals.
- Sam Kerr (Australia) – As captain of the Australian team and a forward for Chelsea, Kerr’s performance will be crucial if the co-hosts aim to make a deep run in the World Cup. With over 120 appearances for her country and an impressive goal-scoring record, including five goals in the 2019 World Cup, the 29-year-old is a force to be reckoned with. Kerr’s achievements extend to her club, where she scored 29 goals in 38 appearances this season.
- Megan Rapinoe (United States) – Rapinoe is undoubtedly one of the most recognizable players in women’s football. With 199 appearances for the United States, she has scored 63 goals and provided 73 assists. Having won the World Cup twice, Rapinoe currently plays for OL Reign in the United States. At 38, she may be approaching retirement, but she remains a prominent figure in women’s football, both for her skills on the field and her outspokenness on social issues such as LGBTQ rights.
- Keira Walsh (England) – With several key players sidelined due to injury, the burden of England’s World Cup aspirations falls heavily on midfielder Keira Walsh. Her move from Manchester City to Barcelona for a reported fee of £400,000 ($508,000) made her the most expensive women’s footballer at the time. Known for her passing ability, game reading skills, and ball-winning capabilities, Walsh played a crucial role in England’s victory at the 2022 Euro, where she was named the player of the match in the final against Germany.
- Ada Hegerberg (Norway) – The first recipient of the Women’s Ballon d’Or in 2018, Hegerberg is a prolific striker for Lyon in France. While her Norway career has experienced interruptions, she returned to the international scene last year after citing concerns over gender inequality within the Norwegian federation. Although injuries have plagued her, Hegerberg’s performance speaks for itself, averaging more than a goal per game for her club and holding the record for the most goals in the UEFA Women’s Champions League with 59.