Nigeria forward Asisat Oshoala will miss the rest of the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations (WAFCON) with a knee injury.
The four-time – and reigning – African Women’s Footballer of the Year had her tournament ended by a medial ligament injury suffered in Nigeria’s 2-1 defeat by South Africa on Monday.
The 27-year-old recently won Spain’s Pichichi award after scoring 20 league goals for Barcelona and was expected to help the Super Falcons defend their continental title in Morocco.
Oshoala suffered the injury in the early minutes of the Group C clash, but played on for another hour before she was substituted in the 82nd minute of the game.
Scans revealed Oshoala suffered a grade two medial collateral ligament injury and will be returning to Spain on Thursday, according to the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF).
One team officials said the injury would sideline the former Arsenal and Liverpool player “for several weeks”.
Oshoala’s injury leaves Nigeria with a 24-player squad as they seek to bounce back from their opening game loss against South Africa.
Botswana lead Group C on goal difference ahead of South Africa, with both sides in action again on Thursday against Nigeria and Burundi respectively.
Africa’s most decorated female footballer, Oshoala is the first woman from the continent to claim Spain’s golden boot, despite missing two months of the season through injury.
Oshoala, who recently signed a deal to remain with the Spanish giants until the end of the 2023-24 campaign, has been plagued by thigh and knee injuries in the past nine months.
She won her third Women’s Africa Cup of Nations with the Super Falcons in Ghana in 2018, scoring three goals as Nigeria lifted the title for a ninth time.
The maiden BBC Women’s Footballer of the Year winner also helped Nigeria reach the last 16 at the 2019 Women’s World Cup in France.
Oshoala won the Confederation of African Football’s Women’s Player of the Year award for a fourth time in 2020 – equalling the record of fellow Nigerian Perpetua Nkwocha.
On Wednesday Caf announced she has been included among the 30 nominees for Women’s Player of the Year award for 2021-22.