The inaugural COSAFA Women’s Under-17 Championship in Mauritius last year produced a stunning 158 goals in the 16 games played as attacking players ran riot.
That means there were plenty of star performers, but here is our pick of five who stood out for their excellence. We certainly could have selected a lot more!
Who else will make their name at the 2020 championship to be staged in Nelson Mandela Bay from November 5-13?
JULIET NALUKENGE (UGANDA)
The undisputed ‘Queen’ of the 2019 COSAFA Women’s Under-17 Championships, Nalukenge ended the tournament with an astonishing 18 goals in five games in an incredible personal display.
It all started tamely with a penalty in a 1-1 draw with Zambia in their opener, but from there on in Nalukenge fired East African guest nation Uganda to the title.
She scored six in an 11-0 win over Mauritius, and then seven in a 20-0 victory over Comoros Islands.
Nalukenge added yet another hat-trick in the 12-0 semifinal victory over Botswana, before helping the team lift the trophy with a goal in the final as they defeated hosts South Africa 2-1.
Such was her success that she actually won Uganda Women’s Player of the Year for 2019, despite being in the lowest age-group!She plays for Kawempe Muslim Ladies in her homeland and is hoping to lead Uganda to the 2021 FIFA Women’s Under-17 World Cup, with only a two-legged tie against Cameroon standing in their way.
FLORENCE KASONDE (ZAMBIA)
Kasonde is still only 17 this year and so could make a return to COSAFA Women’s Under-17 Championship, where she picked up a bronze medal last year.
She netted four goals against Comoros Islands and a hat-trick against Mauritius in a mature display that made her a stand-out in an excellent Zambia team.
She will want to follow in the footsteps of other senior Zambian stars such as Racheal Nachula, who have made the move abroad to further their careers, and will know the COSAFA tournaments give her the best chance of that.
OYISA MARHASI (SOUTH AFRICA)
South Africa captain Jessica Wade pulled the strings in midfield, but for sheer potency in front of goal, Marhasi was superb.
The forward has become an integral part of the South Africa side and was involved with the team as they won through to the final round of qualifiers for the 2021 FIFA Women’s Under-17 World Cup.
She got the ball rolling and netted six goals in South Africa’s 28-0 hammering of Seychelles, and then added two more in the 5-1 win over Botswana.
She kept her run going with another goal in the final pool match, a 3-1 success over Madagascar, and made it a fourth successive scoring performance with another goal in the 2-1 semifinal win over Zambia. The only game she did not net in was the final, but ended up with 10 in the tournament.
ALINAH LALASOA (MADAGASCAR)
Double hat-tricks are rare, but Lalasoa managed that in a victory over fellow islanders Seychelles in which she showed all her finishing instincts.
It is clear that she has a bright future in the game and she will want to make sure she progresses up through the age-groups for her country.
Lalasoa is certainly one to watch among the island nations.
FAUZIA NAJJEMBA (UGANDA)
Like Nalukenge, Najjemba was on fire in the tournament for Uganda, scoring 13 goals, though she drew a blank in their opener against Zambia. But she was soon off the mark with a brace in their second game against Mauritius, and four more in the thumping Comoros.
It was in the semifinal against Botswana where she really came to the fore though, netting six times in the 12-0 success.
She also scored the opener in the final against South Africa, and remains a crucial part of the Uganda side that hopes to go to the World Cup.