As Super Falcons' star player Asisat Oshoala stepped up to receive her record-equalling fourth CAF African Women's Player of the Year Award in January 2020, it could all have been different for Ajara Nchout.
Oshoala's biggest opponent: Profiling Cameroon's Ajara Nchout
All you need to know about Ajara Nchout, the woman aiming to unseat Asisat Oshoala as Africa's champion and best player
In the Egyptian city of Hurghada, Nchout made it to the podium alongside the 2018 winner, South Africa's Thembi Kgatlana. Coming off the back of 13 goals in 26 matches during the calendar year, Nchout took her place amongst the Top 3 women footballers on the continent.
Having finally wrestled the top status from veteran Gabrielle Onguene in the Cameroonian national team, continental dominance proved a much bigger challenge for Nchout in 2019. But with the return of the Women's Africa Cup of Nations (WAFCON), the stage is set for the 29-year-old to make an assault on the continent again.
Ajara Nchout's national team record
Nchout made her debut for the Indomitable Lionesses at the 2012 London Olympic Games, playing all three matches in the group stage of the competition. The forward also made it to the 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup in Canada, helping the West African side reach the second round before crashing out of the Mundial.
The Njisse-born attacker made her WAFCON debut at the 2018 edition held in Ghana, helping the Indomitable Lionesses to a third-place finish having lost the semifinals on penalties to the Super Falcons of Nigeria.
Nchout continues to make great strides on the international stage, following up her 2012 Olympics and 2015 World Cup appearances with another World Cup appearance at the France 2019 edition and the 2020 Beijing Olympics.
Overall, Nchout has tallied five (5) goals and one (1) assist for the Cameroonian national team in 20 appearances across all competitions (including friendly matches).
Ajara Nchout's WAFCON record
The 2022 WAFCON is Nchout's second official outing in the tournament, having broken her duck at the 2018 showpiece.
At the 2018 edition, the then Sandviken striker announced herself to the continent with two (2) goals and one (1) assist in five games. The competition capped her most productive year to date, having scored 17 goals and one (1) assist during the 2018 calendar year.
Having now fully usurped Onguene as the star turn of the Indomitable Lionesses, Nchout will be hoping to help the West Africans win the tournament for the first time in their history, after four final heartbreaks in 1991, 2004, 2014 & 2016 (all at the hands of the Super Falcons of Nigeria).
Ajara Nchout's club career
Ajara Nchout started her club football career in the Russian top division with FC Energy Voronezh in 2011. In her sole season there, she scored five (5) goals in 23 appearances.
The Cameroonian forward then moved on to WFC Rossiyanka in the same league, playing only the 2012/13 season there and notching two (2) goals in 14 appearances.
Since then, Nchout has turned out for American club Western New York Flash, Sweden's duo of Sundsvalls and Sandviken and Spanish sides Valerenga and Atletico Madrid.
The 29-year-old is currently with Italian side Inter Milan, having signed for the Blue and Blacks in 2021.
Ajara Nchout's FIFA Puskas Award nomination
Nchout's goal on Matchday 3 of the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup against New Zealand was nominated for the 2019 FIFA Puskas Award.
On that day, Nchout scored both goals to edge their opponents 2-1 and she was also adjudged the Man-of-the-Match for her impressive performance.