By MICHAEL MIYOBA
COPPER Queens forward Rachel Kundananji has been crowned winner of the 2023 Goal50 Award, coming out on top after a series of head-to-head battles voted on by fans across the globe.
Kundananji beat competition from Barcelona forward Asitat Oshoala, who is fresh from winning the African Player of the year award and was voted second best on the Goal50 list while Real Madrid female star Linda Caicedo was voted third best.
Kundananji, who was sidelined for the CAF Awards recently held in Morocco becomes the first African player ever to top the Goal50 list, men’s or women’s.
She ends Alexia Putellas dominance after the Spaniard, a former Balloon D’or winner scooped back-to-back Goal50 awards in 2021 and 2022 respectively.
Only Alba Redondo scored more goals than Kundananji in the Spanish Liga F last year as the Zambian international netted 25 times in 29 appearances to help Madrid CFF finish fifth.
Kundananji also scored as Madrid CFF defeated champions Barcelona and ended the Catalans’ 64-game unbeaten run.
She also got her first Women’s World Cup goal this year as Zambia claimed their maiden World Cup win after beating Costa Rica 3-1 with the other goals coming from Lushomo Mweemba and Barbra Banda.
Meanwhile, Malawian striker Tabitha Chawinga who is deemed as one of the deadliest goal-scorers in the women’s game was voted fourth best on the Goal50 list after she scored 23 goals in 23 Serie A games for Inter to claim the Golden Boot.
English and Chelsea star Lauren James was ranked fifth on the Goal50 list after she played a key role as Chelsea claimed a domestic double and reached the Women’s Champions League semi-finals.
Women’s 2023 Balloon D’or winner Aitana Bonmati is ranked 11th on the Goal50 list after she helped Barcelona to win the league, the Super Cup and became champions of Europe again.
Bonmati was in top form at the Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand where she scooped the tournament’s Golden Ball and helped Spain to become world champions
In the men’s category, Inter Miami superstar Lionel Messi was crowned winner of the 2023 GOAL50 awards.
Messi finished ahead of Man City’s Erling Haaland, Real Madrid’s Jude Bellingham, Kylian Mbappe and Belgium’s Kevin De Bruyne.