Leading United Kingdom publication, The Guardian, has listed China-based Malawian star Tabitha Chawinga among the top 100 women football players in the world.
Surprisingly, Cameroonian Ajara Nchout and South African Thembi Kgatlana, who outclassed the Malawi women’s football national team captain on the top-three list for Confederation of African Football (CAF) Women Football Player of the Year Award, are not on the list.
Ranked 95th, Chawinga is one of the only two African players on the top 100 list the publication has released in partnership with The Offside Rule Podcast. Former African women football player of the year Asisat Oshoala from Nigeria, who is among the CAF top-three list, is ranked 55th.
To make the list, The Guardian assembled a voting panel of 93 judges from 44 countries—eight Africans, 14 Asians, 44 Europeans, 14 North and Central Americans and 12 South Americans. Led by US women’s national team head coach Vlatko Andonovski, the panel comprised a selection of coaches, journalists and broadcasters.
“It feels great to be recognised as one of the best players in the world. I thank the Almighty for giving me this talent,” Chawinga said.
When asked how she feels to note that players that are considered better than her in Africa are below her on the global scale, the 23-year-old said: “Such is life. I just have to accept that people are viewed differently in the world.”
In the 2019 season, Chawinga reclaimed the golden boot in the Chinese Women Super League and inspired Jiangsu Suning FC to its first league title in years. She also won two top-scorers awards in cup competitions.
Football Association of Malawi (FAM) president Walter Nyamilandu said the local soccer governing body is proud of Tabitha’s exploits that surpass expectations.
He, however, said the national team’s failure to go far in major international events such as the 2020 Olympics qualifiers seemed to have choked her prospects of making it into the final African football player of the year short-list as all the three final candidates featured for their national teams at the recent Women Football World Cup finals in France.
“Tabitha deserves to be African Player of the Year because she is even more skilful than men. If our national team was very competitive enough to play at the World Cup or the African Championship finals, she would have stood a very good chance. She is in a class of her own and we are proud of her,” he said.
Nevertheless, soccer analyst George Kaudza Masina said the CAF Women Football Player of the Year Award final shortlist did not reflect a true picture on the performance of the players.
“Cameroon and South Africa are football powerhouses. This might have worked to their advantage. Football politics had a hand in the final listing to the disadvantage of Malawi and our Tabitha,” he said. “As for the top 100 women football players in the world, you can see merit playing its rightful role with a crop of 93 non-partisan judges from 44 countries. This just shows that our Tabitha is in a class of her own and she deserved to make it into the top-three of the CAF awards.”