Ten players to watch out for at the 2023 Women’s World Cup

Several veterans such as Brazil’s Marta make the list, along with some younger stars such as Jamaica’s Khadija Shaw.

Khadija Shaw
Khadija Shaw is Jamaica's all-time leading goal scorer in both men's and women's football, with 56 international goals [File: Daniel Becerril/Reuters]

The Women’s World Cup is due to begin on July 20, with co-hosts New Zealand set to play Norway in the opening match.

As excitement builds over what promises to be a summer of top international football, we take a look at the players you should keep an eye on:

1. Sam Kerr, Australia

Big things are expected of Australia’s superstar striker as she returns to captain the Matildas after a hugely successful season in England with Chelsea.

Kerr, 29, played a pivotal role as Chelsea won a fourth consecutive Women’s Super League title and scored the decisive goal in the Blues’ Women’s FA Cup final victory over Manchester United.

Kerr boasts a prolific international goal-scoring record with more than 60 goals. She finished top-scorer at the 2022 AFC Women’s Asian Cup in India, bagging seven goals in only four matches. She scored five at the 2019 World Cup, including four goals in a single game against Jamaica.

sam kerr
Kerr celebrates winning the Women’s Super League [John Sibley/Action Images via Reuters]

2. Marta, Brazil

A veteran of the game at 37 years old, Marta is set to play in her sixth World Cup.

The six-time winner of the FIFA World Player of the Year award will travel to the World Cup, already boasting the record for the most goals in World Cup tournaments – men’s or women’s – with 17.

She was a doubt for the World Cup following a season-ending ACL injury in 2022 while playing for the Orlando Pirates but has since been named in the squad and is now expected to play.

3. Alex Morgan, United States

The undisputed superstar of the US squad, Alex Morgan, has notched up more than 200 caps for her country and scored 121 goals in a glittering international career that has seen her win two World Cups and an Olympic gold medal.

At 34-years-old, Morgan may be entering the twilight years of her football career, but she shows no signs of letting up after scoring the winner in the final of the 2022 CONCACAF Women’s Championship. She was also named player of the tournament.

4. Khadija Shaw, Jamaica

The Manchester City forward heads to the World Cup on the back of a historic 2022-23 campaign for her club, scoring 31 goals in 30 games.

Shaw, affectionately called “bunny” by fans – a nickname given to her by her brother – is Jamaica’s all-time leading goal scorer in both men’s and women’s football, with 56 international goals to her name. A huge achievement made all the more impressive by the fact she is only 26 years old!

5. Alexia Putellas, Spain

Putellas is arguably the best player at the World Cup, having won the Ballon d’Or Féminin, the Best FIFA Women’s Player, and European Women’s Player of the Year in both 2021 and 2022.

The 29-year-old was forced to miss nine months of football after suffering a knee injury but returned to FC Barcelona in April in time to help the Catalan giants win the treble.

In September, she had protested against Spain coach Jorge Vilda’s handling of the team along with several other players who threatened to leave the team. However, she has been included in the squad for the 2023 World Cup.

Alexia Putellas
FC Barcelona’s Sandra Panos, Alexia Putellas and Patricia Guijarro celebrate with the trophy after winning the Women’s Champions League Final [Yves Herman/Reuters]

6. Ada Hegerberg, Norway

The Lyon forward, who turns 28 on July 10, will mark a return to World Cup football, having missed the 2019 tournament due to a five-year, self-imposed exile from international football. The decision had been in protest at the treatment of the women’s game by the Norwegian Football Federation, which had left her “mentally broken”.

As the all-time UEFA Champions League’s top goalscorer, Hegerberg’s return will be a huge boost to the tournament.

Hegerberg has won an astonishing six Champions League trophies and eight Division 1 Féminine titles in France.

Ada Hegerberg
Ada Hegerberg in action against Northern Ireland at Euro 2022 [John Sibley/Reuters]

7. Lena Oberdorf, Germany

The versatile 21-year-old midfielder who plies her trade at VfL Wolfsburg won best young player at Euro 2022 and was included in the tournament’s best XI by UEFA coaching staff.

The tough-tackling Oberdorf can also play in central defence or as a full-back, making her an incredibly useful resource for a talented Germany team.

The Guardian named her the fifth-best player in the world in 2022.

8. Yui Hasegawa, Japan

The Manchester City star is as adept at going forward as she is at her defensive duties, making her an important asset in a talented Nadeshiko side.

At 26-years-old, Hasegawa already boasts an impressive CV, having made 65 appearances for her country and netting 14 goals. She has also tasted success with Japan, winning both the AFC Women’s Asian Cup and Asian Games in 2018.

9. Lucy Bronze, England

The Barcelona right-back is no stranger to success. During her illustrious career, the 31-year-old has won Euro 2022 with England and notched up four Champions League wins with two different teams. She has also topped the domestic leagues in England – with Liverpool and Manchester City – in France with Lyon, and in Spain with FC Barcelona.

Lucy Bronze
Bronze during training with England on June 20, 2023 [Andrew Couldridge/Action Images via Reuters]

10. Asisat Oshoala, Nigeria

The 28-year-old Barcelona forward became the first ever African player to win the Women’s Champions League in 2021, only to go and win it again two seasons later – although she was injured for the final.

She is also a five-time African player of the year and the first African to be nominated for the Ballon d’Or Féminin.

Oshoala scored in Nigeria’s 2015 and 2019 World Cup appearances and will hope to guide a strong Nigeria side out of the group stages, where they are matched with Ireland, Australia and Canada.

Source: Al Jazeera