February was a busy month for Africa's footballers, as the second and final round of qualifiers for the Africa Women's Cup of Nations [AWCON] took place, on top of the usual league action.
Several players made telling contributions with their clubs, and although Asisat Oshoala was injured in training with Nigeria, she retains top spot in the rankings as a result of her form for Barcelona.
Nigeria teammate Ashleigh Plumptre is hot on her heels after playing a key role in Leicester City's FA Women's Super League [FAWSL] resurgence.
It has been another solid month for the three giants of African women's football, with Nigeria, Cameroon, and South Africa all qualifying for AWCON.
1. Asisat Oshoala, Barcelona
Oshoala began the month in style, scoring in Barcelona's 4-0 Primera Iberdrola win over Levante. She followed that up with a brace in a 9-1 drubbing of Real Sociedad, and another goal in a 3-0 triumph over Athletic Club.
The league's top scorer, with 19 goals, subsequently picked up a devastating thigh injury in training with Nigeria, which is expected to rule her out of action for 10 weeks. Oshoala is now in a race against time to be fully fit for July's AWCON in Morocco.
2. Ashleigh Plumptre, Leicester City
Foxes defender Plumptre, who only received clearance to play for Nigeria two months ago, is a new face in our top 10. This is partly due to her Super Falcons history being so short, and also due to Leicester's struggles in the WSL.
However, Plumptre has played a major role in lifting the Foxes comfortably clear of the relegation zone recently. They won both of their league games in February and are now 10th in the 12-team league, eight points clear of bottom club Birmingham City. At the end of the campaign, one team will be relegated.
Plumptre, who scored in a 3-0 win over West Ham recently, was shortlisted for FA WSL Player of the Month and was rock solid in Nigeria's 3-0 aggregate win over Ivory Coast in the final round of AWCON qualifying. Leicester missed her sorely as they slumped to a 7-0 FA Cup fifth round defeat to Chelsea.
3. Linda Motlhalo, Djurgården
So often an unsung hero in midfield, Motlhalo's contribution was telling once again for South Africa in their 3-1 aggregate win over Algeria in the second round of AWCON qualifying.
After a strong performance in the 2-0 first leg victory, she scored a penalty in the second leg in Algeria, a 1-1 draw, effectively clinching Banyana Banyana's place in Morocco.
Upon returning to club duty, Motlhalo scored for Sweden's Djurgården in their 3-0 Svenska Cupen win over Mallbacken. Early indications are that the Randfontein Ronaldinho is on the right track ahead of the new Damallsvenskan season, which will start in a month.
4. Claudine Meffometou, Fleury 91
Meffometou helped Fleury 91 keep clean sheets in the 1-0 win over Montpellier and the 0-0 draw with Dijon.
Subsequently, she helped Cameroon qualify for AWCON, scoring in their 8-0 first leg win over Gambia, en route to a 10-1 aggregate success.
After suffering a 4-0 defeat to giants Paris Saint-Germain, Fleury 91 sit fourth in the French Division 1 Féminine, still very much in contention for UEFA Champions League qualification.
5. Chiamaka Nnadozie, Paris FC
At club level, Nnadozie was in goal for Paris FC's 2-1 win over Saint-Étienne and 5-2 thrashing of Guingamp. Third-placed Paris FC are six points clear of nearest rivals Fleury 91 in the race for the final Champions League place.
For Nigeria, Nnadozie made a telling contribution as she kept clean sheets in both legs of their second round qualifier against Ivory Coast, and saved a penalty from Fatou Coulibaly in the second leg.
"When the referee called the penalty, I told myself that this is the time for me to save the team. And I did exactly what I told myself," Nnadozie told ESPN.
The 21-year-old will be a vital asset for the Super Falcons at the AWCON in July.
6. Ifeoma Onumonu, Gotham FC
Onumonu's brace in Nigeria's 2-0 first leg win over Ivory Coast sent the Super Falcons soaring towards the AWCON.
The Gotham striker was in the box at the right time for the first goal. Esther Okoronkwo gathered the ball after her shot was parried and squared for Onumonu to score around the 20-minute mark.
For the second goal, Onumonu latched onto a long ball from Rita Chikwelu, chipping it into the net with a first-time shot to put the Super Falcons 2-0 up four minutes before the hour mark.
Onumonu did well to stake a claim for a starting berth in a competitive squad ahead of the AWCON, particularly with Oshoala out injured.
7. Rasheedat Ajibade, Atlético Madrid
Ajibade is becoming increasingly prolific for Atlético Madrid and scored braces against Madrid CFF and Sevilla in February. She now has nine goals in 17 Primera Iberdrola matches this season, while Atléti are fourth in the league, two points behind second-placed Sociedad with a game in hand.
She was also influential for Nigeria in the AWCON qualifiers against Ivory Coast, though more so as a playmaker than the lethal finisher she can be on her best days.
8. Ajara Nchout, Inter Milan
Nchout continues to play a major role for both club and country. She began her February off on a high, scoring Inter Milan's second goal in a 3-2 win over Empoli.
Inter subsequently suffered an Italian Women's Cup quarter-final defeat to Juventus and a league loss to Roma.
However, Nchout was also on the scoresheet for Cameroon, netting in their 8-0 thrashing of Gambia in the first leg of their 10-1 AWCON qualifying win.
9. Thembi Kgatlana, Atlético Madrid
Kgatlana has yet to quite hit the levels of consistency which she is capable of at Atlético Madrid, who she joined from Eibar ahead of this season. However, she continues to inspire Atléti and Banyana Banyana with moments of brilliance.
Kgatlana's goal in the 2-1 defeat to Athletic Bilbao on Feb. 9 was in vain, but she scored a crucial late game-clincher in the first leg of South Africa's AWCON qualifier against Algeria, doubling Banyana's lead by finishing beautifully from Gabriela Salgado's cross.
The 25-year-old striker had been quiet until that point, but her goal at a vital moment left Algeria with a mountain to climb in the second leg -- one which ultimately proved insurmountable.
10. Mariem Houij, ALG Spor
Houij has been prolific for Turkish club ALG Spor this season and was one of the outstanding players in the second round of AWCON qualifying.
Her hat-trick in Tunisia's 5-0 drubbing of Equatorial Guinea was followed up by another goal in a 3-2 second leg defeat.
Her four goals were the difference in the tie as the two-time African champions were sensationally sent packing before the tournament proper could even begin.