Kundananji becomes First-Ever African to win GOAL50 Award
Zambia Women’s National Team forward Racheal Kundananji has become the first African player ever to top the GOAL50 list, men’s or women’s in the history of the list.
The Zambia star had an electric 2022-23 season, scoring 25 times in just 29 league games for Madrid CFF before adding a first ever FIFA Women’s World Cup goal to her CV in July 2023.
Those exploits were enough to see her accrue enough votes from the GOAL readers, to top the list ahead of Nigeria’s Asisat Oshoala, who finished second, and Colombia star Linda Caicedo, who rounded out the top three to make it an all-Liga F podium, with Oshoala plying her trade with Barcelona and Caicedo representing Real Madrid.
Kundananji secured a dream move to Madrid CFF in August 2022, and repaid the club’s faith with a stunning debut campaign.
Madrid could only finish fifth in Liga F, but Kundananji scored 25 goals in 29 appearances to finish as runner up in the Golden Boot race. Two of those efforts came in a upset victory over eventual champions Barcelona, which solidified her status as one of the best young players in the game.
Kundananji’s impressive performances earned her a spot in Zambia’s FIFA Women’s World Cup squad, and she managed to open her scoring account at the tournament in 3-1 group stage win over Costa Rica.
Zambia didn’t make it through to the knockout stage, but the 23-year-old went on to notch her first hat-trick at international level in a friendly win over Morocco in September, before repeating the trick in Madrid’s 5-1 victory over Sevilla.
Kundananji has added four more goals to her 2023-24 club total since then, and if she continues on her current trajectory, her GOAL50 nod could be be the first of many.
GOAL50 is an annual award ranking the 50 best footballers in the world over the previous 12 months. Up until 2021, the final winners were decided by a panel of experts across GOAL’s 42 editions.
However, a format change in 2022 gave fans the power to decide who finishes top of the pile as randomly selected head-to-heads were presented to the general voter. Two shortlists of the 50 best male and female players in the world were compiled based on their performance at both club and international level, which readers were able to access via the GOAL website and apps to place their votes.