Women's rankings - Brick wall Nnadozie leads Super Falcons' dominance

Photo by Matt Roberts - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images

Nigeria goalkeeper Chiamaka Nnadozie has gained many a fan at the ongoing Women's World Cup, and leads the Super Falcons-heavy line in ESPN's women's rankings for July.

In a month of firsts, African women's football made history as each of the four countries picked up World Cup points. Nigeria, Morocco and Zambia all achieved famous victories, beating Australia, South Korea and Costa Rica respectively.

The Super Falcons progressed to the round of 16, after drawing with the Republic of Ireland and Canada. Meanwhile, Banyana Banyana picked up their first World Cup point with a 2-2 draw against Argentina.

1. Chiamaka Nnadozie, Paris FC

Nnadozie has been instrumental in qualifying Paris FC for the UEFA Women's Champions League in back-to-back seasons, but this World Cup has seen her truly announce herself as one of the world's most formidable shot-stoppers.

The 22-year-old, who recently signed a contract to keep her at Paris until 2025, saved a Christine Sinclair penalty to preserve Nigeria's point in a 0-0 draw with Canada and kept another clean sheet in the draw with the Republic of Ireland.

'Under-appreciated no more!' Nigeria book knockout spot

Brittanny Mitchell reports Nigeria earning their way through to the last 16 after goalless Ireland draw.

2. Ashleigh Plumptre, Free agent

Versatile Super Falcons defender Plumptre has left Leicester City after helping them escape from relegation in the FA Women's Super League (FA WSL), but based on her performances at the World Cup, she is likely to have no shortage of suitors.

Plumptre has been formidable at the back and a vital cog in the transition between defence and attack for the Super Falcons. She has not only made a number of crucial tackles, four interceptions and three blocks, but her ball distribution has also been important for Nigeria.

3. Christy Ucheibe, Benfica

Much like Plumptre, Ucheibe has been a vital piece of the puzzle for Nigeria and has contributed tremendously at both ends of the field.

At the time of writing, Ucheibe has the most tackles of any player in the World Cup (18) and has also made seven blocks and four interceptions.

She was instrumental in the clean sheets against Canada and Ireland and in the latter match, she also attempted six take-ons, three of which were successful, and completed 31 of 39 passes.

4. Thembi Kgatlana, Racing Louisville

Kgatlana has superbly silenced her doubters after coming back from a near year-long injury absence shortly before the World Cup, which left her with a mountain to climb as she sought to get back to her best.

She got Banyana's first game against Sweden off to a shaky start, going for glory on the break when the better option would have been to pick out teammate Jermaine Seoposenwe. However, she recovered superbly, chasing a ball which appeared to be beyond her reach and setting up Hildah Magaia for the opener, although South Africa would go on to lose 2-1.

Kgatlana then got on the scoresheet herself in the 2-2 draw with Argentina which saw Banyana claim their first ever World Cup point.

5. Asisat Oshoala, Barcelona

Oshoala might just go down as the greatest women's footballer in Africa's history, but at this World Cup, she has not been the standout player in the Super Falcons side so far.

Nevertheless, her goal against Australia to put Nigeria beyond reach in the 3-2 victory will be remembered as one of the great moment's in Africa's World Cup history.

She missed a golden opportunity to score what could have been the winner in the draw with Ireland subsequently, but Oshoala nevertheless continues to play a key part for Nigeria and if she finds her best form for the round of 16 game against England, the Lionesses will need to be on guard.

6. Barbra Banda, Shanghai Shengli

Banda has led the line for Zambia at this World Cup and her lack of goals in the first two matches against Japan and Spain - both 5-0 defeats - can hardly be attributed to any deficiency on her part as she was isolated upfront while the Copper Queens weathered storm after storm at the back.

In the 3-1 win over Costa Rica, Banda got on the scoresheet from the penalty spot, but was also unselfish in setting up Racheal Kundananji for the game-clincher.

7. Osinachi Ohale, Deportivo Alavés

Ohale has been vital at centre-back for Nigeria, playing an instrumental role in their clean sheets against Canada and Ireland while also getting on the scoresheet in the win over Australia.

The veteran defender, who always seems to bring her best form to international tournaments, was on hand to nod home the rebound after Mackenzie Arnold saved Rasheedat Ajibade's header from a corner.

8. Rasheedat Ajibade, Atlético Madrid

Ajibade has been an unsung hero for the Super Falcons throughout their group stage run. Not only was it her header that led to Ohale's goal on the rebound against Australia, but she has also been vital with her incisive runs and dangerous dribbling.

The only aspect of her game which she needs to work on is adding more goals to her game, having scored 20 in 69 appearances for Atlético Madrid since signing from Avaldsnes, including 35 starts.

9. Toni Payne, Sevilla

Alabama-born Payne has been a vital cog in the system for Nigeria and has been tremendous creatively. She was incredibly unfortunate not to pick up what could have been a match-winning assist as her pinpoint cross picked out Uchenna Kanu, whose close-range shot was superbly saved.

Her 13 crosses and 15 ball recoveries have been vital in equal measure and she has carried her consistent form for Sevilla into the World Cup.

10. Racheal Kundananji, Madrid CFF

Kundananji has had to play a major role for Zambia at both ends of the field due to them being under siege defensively in the 5-0 defeats to Japan and Spain and Grace Chanda being unavailable.

Nevertheless, the second-highest scorer in the previous Primera Iberdrola season attempted diligently to win the ball and carry it upfield, while also remaining productive upfront. She was duly rewarded as she scored in the win over Costa Rica.