Although less well-known than their counterparts in men’s football, the stars at the top of the women’s game, poised to take the pitch in France over the next month, are an impressive lot.
Megan Rapinoe (USA)
At 33, American midfielder Megan Rapinoe is one of the headline names in women’s football. A defending world champion with the United States, Rapinoe is keen to lift the trophy again in France, a country she knows well, with the final set for Lyon on July 7. The Redding, California, native won two French championships with the city’s illustrious Olympique Lyonnais in 2013 and 2014. She also boasts an Olympic gold medal from London 2012. The socially engaged Seattle Reign FC star has declined to sing the US national anthem in protest over inequality in the US and Trump administration policy.
Alex Morgan (USA)
Team USA’s Alex Morgan has also plied her trade in France. The American striker played one season with Olympique Lyonnais, winning a French championship, French Cup and Champions League treble with the club. An emblematic face of the US team, the Orlando Pride forward became the first footballer woman to appear on the cover of a FIFA video game (FIFA 16). She boasts more than 3.5 million followers on Twitter and played herself in the 2018 film “Alex & Me”.
Asisat Oshoala reveals biggest dream with Nigeria in France
Barcelona forward Asisat Oshoala has set sights on winning the Women’s World Cup with Nigeria in France during the off-season. Oshoala won her third consecutive Women’s Cup of Nation title in 2018 with the Super Falcons, but her effort was not enough to earn her a fourth African Women’s Footballer of the Year prize.In search for better form, the 24-year-old made a loan move to Barcelona, where she scored eight goals in 11 outings in 2019 and was rewarded with a three-year contract by the Spanish outfit.
Amandine Henry (France)
After spending parts of two seasons with the Portland Thorns, French midfielder Amandine Henry is well-acquainted with the game’s American luminaries. In France, she tasted glory most recently with Olympique Lyonnais, winning a French championship with the club in April. The 29-year-old is also a lethal weapon for France’s national side, “Les Bleues”. Henry won the Ballon d’Argent (Silver Ball) as runner-up best player at the 2015 Women’s World Cup and hopes to help put France in a position to win its first ever World Cup, at home.
Eugénie Le Sommer (France)
France’s active top scorer with 74 goals, Eugénie Le Sommer is a machine, fast approaching the French all-time leader Marinette Pichon’s 81-goal mark. The Brittany-native has also been prolific with her club side in Lyon. The Olympique Lyonnais striker has racked up 257 goals and an impressive trophy collection: Nine French championships, seven French Cups and six Champions Leagues. A world title at home would round out the 30-year-old’s résumé nicely.
Marta Vieira da Silva, better known as Marta, is already a legend, considered one of the best players in the history of women’s football. Indeed, FIFA has named her Footballer of the Year a record six times, in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2018. Although occasionally compared to her iconic compatriot Pelé in the men’s game, the 33-year-old Marta has yet to win a top prize with the Brazilian national team. For the 2007 World Cup finalist and two-time Olympic silver medallist (2004, 2008), the 2019 tournament in France may well be Marta’s last chance to pad her legacy with a world title.
Christine Sinclair (Canada)
Canada captain Christine Sinclair is the top Canadian goal-scorer and player of all time. She’s brought joy to the national side for almost two decades. Sinclair has two Olympic Games under her belt, including a bronze-medal winning performance in 2012 in London, where she was even named Canada’s flag bearer for the closing ceremonies. At 36, the Portland Thorns striker has a chance to burnish her own legend during this World Cup: With 180 goals for her national team, Sinclair needs only four more to tie the all-time international world-record holder, American Abby Wambach.
Saki Kumagai (Japan)
Although a discreet presence, Saki Kumagai is one of the winningest players in the French top-flight. The Japanese defender, who plays for Olympique Lyonnais, has won a World Cup (2011), been a World Cup finalist (2015), won an Olympic silver medal (2012) and an Asian Cup (2018). At 28, Japan’s captain has time to add to that impressive tally. Perhaps she’ll notch up another career-making moment during the competition in France, as she did scoring the winning penalty in the 2011 World Cup final in Germany.
Lieke Martens (The Netherlands)
The year 2017 was a special one for Lieke Martens. She was European champion with the Dutch team, won Ballon d’Or best-player honours for that tournament, and was named FIFA Player of the Year. Now 26, Lieke Martens just gets better and better. The FC Barcelona striker is one of the new stars of women’s football, featured in advertisements alongside her counterparts from the men’s game, like her idol Lionel Messi and David Beckham.
Sam Kerr (Australia)
At 25, Sam Kerr may be one of the top star attractions of the 2019 tournament. The Australia forward, who plays for the Chicago Red Stars, was ranked fifth for the first Women’s Ballon d’Or in 2018. A goal-scoring machine, she is a rising star in the women’s game and is attracting the attention of top clubs, including Paris Saint-Germain, which may well seek to recruit her soon.
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Credit image : france 24