South Africa's Thembi Kgatlana tops women's rankings after shining at World Cup

How the 2023 World Cup leaves 'a legacy of growth' for women's football (1:12)

ESPN's Sophie Lawson recaps the 2023 Women's World Cup and what it means for the future of women's football. (1:12)

For the first time in history, three African teams competed in the last 16 of a FIFA Women's World Cup, and South Africa's Thembi Kgatlana shone for Banyana Banyana as they made history.

Kgatlana, Nigeria goalkeeper Chiamaka Nnadozie, and Houston Dash forward Michelle Alozie were among the stars of a tournament that is set to open the floodgates for many other African players to make their mark on global leagues.

1. Thembi Kgatlana, Racing Louisville

Kgatlana set Hildah Magaia up to score Banyana's second goal against Italy in their final group game and then netted the winner which saw the nation progress to the round of 16 for the first time, in either a men's or women's senior World Cup tournament.

The Racing Louisville forward tops this month's rankings not only because of that performance, but also her valiant effort against the Netherlands in the round of 16 - a match in which she was heavily isolated upfront but nevertheless caused problems for the Dutch defence and had several near misses in her attempts to find the back of the net.

Kgatlana is back with her club teammates and came on as a substitute in Racing Louisville's final game of the month, a 0-0 draw with Gotham FC.

2. Chiamaka Nnadozie, Paris FC

Nnadozie topped our rankings last month and gave us no reason to remove her from the list as she performed superbly to keep a clean sheet in Nigeria's round of 16 clash with England, which ended 0-0 and went to penalties.

She was unable to guide her team to victory in the shootout, but given the Super Falcons' poor shooting from the spot, she could hardly be blamed for that. It would be surprising if she weren't snatched away from Paris FC in the coming months.

3. Michelle Alozie, Houston Dash

Houston Dash striker Alozie was at the centre of the storm which overshadowed the England v Nigeria clash - the Lauren James stamp on her which led to the Chelsea winger's two-match suspension.

However, it would be a tragedy if Alozie's outstanding performances throughout the tournament were forgotten. Impressive at both ends of the field, Alozie may have missed a penalty in the shootout, but was strong in the air and an important cog in the wheel at right-back.

A relatively late bloomer, Alozie went undrafted in the 2019 NWSL College Draft and only made her debuts for Nigeria and the Dash in 2021, but her versatility and strong aerial presence have ensured she has become crucial for both club and country.

A cancer researcher in her time away from the field, Alozie has hit the ground running back in the NWSL, scoring for the Dash in their recent 1-1 draw with Kansas City Current.

4. Hildah Magaia, Sejong Sportstoto

Magaia not only profited from a Kgatlana assist against Italy, but also set up the winner. She was instrumental in Banyana's impressive attacking displays at the World Cup, although the Netherlands proved too tough for her to perform at her best against.

The 28-year-old earned her first break overseas with Morön BK in Sweden's second tier two years ago and now plies her trade in South Korea. Although she was a late discovery, she appears to be setting herself up for a lengthy career overseas.

5. Ashleigh Plumptre, Free agent

Still officially without a club at the time of writing, England-born Plumptre, who recently left Leicester City, was immense at the back for Nigeria at the World Cup.

The former England youth international played every minute as Nigeria kept a clean sheet against the Lionesses. She played a vital role, as she had throughout the tournament, with three tackles and four interceptions while also smacking the crossbar with a superb strike at the other end.

Although Nigeria came up short against the Lionesses, she looked like a player who could have played a role for either country at the highest level.

6. Christy Ucheibe, Benfica

Ucheibe was vital for Nigeria in midfield, harrying England on the press and helping the Super Falcons to get on the front foot at every opportunity.

The Benfica midfielder played for Nigeria at the 2014 U17 World Cup and the 2018 U20 World Cup and has now gone into her first senior World Cup as a triple Portuguese champion at the age of 22.

She is likely to be one of the leaders of the next Super Falcons generation, having given an impressive account of herself to her senior teammates and perhaps even potential NWSL or FAWSL teams.

7. Khadija Er-Rmichi, ASFAR

Er-Rmichi was immense in Morocco's 1-0 win over Colombia, which allowed them to progress to the round of 16 at the World Cup. It was an astonishing recovery from a 6-0 drubbing at the hands of Germany in their first game, with wins over South Korea and then the South American team.

Morocco were eventually beaten 4-0 by France in the round of 16, but not without providing a show in their first appearance and validation that their investment in women's football has paid off.

8. Jermaine Seoposenwe, Monterrey

South Africa owe their progress to the last 16 in no small part due to the selfless work of Seoposenwe, who has been a perennial unsung hero on attack over the years.

She was instrumental in the build-up to Kgatlana's winner against Italy, returning the ball to Hildah Magaia after getting it from her, allowing Magaia to set the Racing Louisville forward up for the historic goal.

Had she not picked up an injury, the task for Banyana Banyana against the Netherlands would have felt significantly more manageable.

9. Osinachi Ohale, Pachuca

Ohale was a rock at the back for Nigeria throughout the tournament, playing every bit as important a role as Plumptre in the Super Falcons' progression to the round of 16 and then the brink of an upset against England.

With Alavés no longer in the Primera Iberdrola, Spain's top flight, Ohale has joined a new club - Mexico's Pachuca - and they will be signing a solid player if she can bring her international form over with her.

10. Ibtissam Jraïdi, Al Ahli Saudi

Jraïdi not only scored an historic goal for Morocco in their 1-0 win over South Korea, but also won the penalty which led to Anissa Lahmari tapping in on the follow-up on August 3 in their win over Colombia which booked their place in the round of 16.

Without her contribution to the cause, the Atlas Lionesses would likely not have been able to celebrate making the knockout stages against all odds at their first attempt.