Super Falcons star Asisat Oshoala will be back in Morocco at the 2022 CAF Women's Africa Cup of Nations (WAFCON) to defend the crown and throne she won at the 2018 edition in Ghana.
Asisat for Ballon d'Or: Profiling Oshoala's quest for global recognition at WAFCON 2022
Asisat Oshoala must go beyond winning WAFCON 2022 to annihilating her African foes if she must get Ballon d'Or recognition
Oshoala's three (3) goals and one (1) assist at WAFCON 2018 secured a record-equalling fourth CAF Women's Player of the Year Award at the 2019 Awards Gala.
But in fairness, a fourth consecutive African diadem in Morocco this year and an unprecedented fifth African Player of the Year award in tow would be the least of Oshoala's targets at this year's WAFCON
Oshoala and the Ballon d'Or heartache
Unarguably the best African player to feature in the women's game already, Oshoala's continental throne is not under threat. Still, she will be eager to underscore that her dominance is beyond Africa.
Having already shone on the global stage with a respectable outing at the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup and scoring in the 2021 Women's UEFA Champions League final (the first and only African to do so), the 27-year-old has shown that she can perform on the grandest stages.
Despite her exploits, Oshoala has never been shortlisted for the Ballon d'Or Feminin. She failed to make the 15-woman shortlist in 2018, the 20-woman shortlist in 2019, and the 20-woman shortlist in 2021.
The case for Oshoala and Ballon d'Or 2022
As the 2022 Ballon d'Or edition comes into view, Oshoala has favourably set herself up for consideration.
The last time she played at the WAFCON, she was plying her club trade in the less-fancied Chinese League with Dalian Quanjian. Since then, she has swapped the obscure glow of China for the bright lights of Barcelona.
With the Barcelona Femeni, Oshoala won the 2021/2022 Primera Division and crucially the Pichichi Award as the league's highest goalscorer. She also featured in the 2021/22 UEFA Women's Champions League final, notwithstanding the Blaugranes' loss to Lyon.
All is set for Oshoala 2022
With no other trophies to be handed out before the 2022 Ballon d'Or is awarded, the 2022 WAFCON is Oshoala's last chance to ensure that her name is counted when the roll (Ballon d'Or shortlist) is called.
The change in rules for the Ballon d'Or this year, a move from the calendar year ranking to the season ranking, plays into Oshoala's hands as she gets the benefit of the last laugh (competition) in the run-in to the unveiling of Ballon d'Or shortlist set for August 12, 2022.
Also, France Football's decision to place less emphasis on trophies for the Ballon d'Or award henceforth helps Oshoala's case and hopefully mitigates the Champions League final loss.
With many factors in her favour for the 2022 Ballon d'Or nomination, Oshoala will face familiar foes again in Morocco but this time with a more extensive agenda than just winning the title but of putting in world-class performances that reverberates beyond the fields of Morocco to the boardrooms in France.