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Racheal Kundananji: Becoming the World’s Most Expensive Female Footballer

Racheal Kundananji: Becoming the World’s Most Expensive Female Footballer

cover photo Kundananji jpg e1708508390493

Racheal Kundananji’s transfer makes her the first Zambian international player to compete in the NWSL, and her inclusion extends representation from Africa to seven nations in the league’s history. 

By Tuka Letura

On February 13, 2024, Bay FC, a newly established National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) team based in the San Francisco Bay Area, US, officially announced the acquisition of Zambian forward, Racheal Kundananji, securing her services for a world-record transfer fee. 

Kundananji is now the outright most expensive player in women’s football history after her $860,000 (£685,000) move to the United States surpassed Mayra Ramírez. Ramirez, who had joined Chelsea 25 days prior, had just broken the 500,000 mark in dollars and euros for transfer fees in women’s football after the English side had their offer of €500,000 accepted by her parent club Levante.

Bay FC will make an initial payment of $785,000 for Kundananji, with an additional $75,000 in potential add-on fees to Madrid CFF in Spain. The fee more than doubles the $300,000 (£237,000) fee Tigres UANL paid for South Africa’s Thembi Kgatlana who was previously the most expensive African Women’s player.

Kundananji has also become the first African player, male or female, to break the transfer record in world football.

Womens Transfer Record
Women’s Transfer Record

In her debut season at Madrid CFF, Kundananji netted 27 goals and provided three assists across all competitions. Her impressive performance saw her finish as the second-highest goal scorer in Liga F, tallying an impressive 25 goals. Her goal-scoring prowess was only eclipsed by UD Levante’s Alba Redondo, who secured the top spot with 27 goals.

In a statement released by Bay FC, Lucy Rushton, the General Manager of Bay FC, confirmed that the club is thrilled to have acquired the services of the Zambian attacker. “We are delighted to add Racheal to our group”, Rushton expressed. “She is a tremendous talent with dynamic attacking qualities and an incredible physical profile who has produced for both club and country. Racheal has composure in front of goal and a natural ability to score with different types of finishes and from various locations. We believe she will continue to grow and develop at our club, showcasing her skillset and adding to the array of exciting attacking talent we have here.” Rushton’s words underline the enthusiasm and anticipation surrounding Kundananji’s arrival at Bay FC.

Speaking to BBC, Kundananji expressed her ambition to meet the expectations of the fans. “I want to give the [Bay FC] fans what they want – to enjoy the games, to enjoy seeing me playing and scoring.” 

Kundananji began her football journey at Konkola Queens in Chililabombwe, Zambia, before transferring to Indeni Roses in Ndola in 2017. It was at Indeni Roses she caught the attention of national team scouts with her outstanding performance, netting 21 goals in 18 matches in the FAZ Women’s Copperbelt provincial league.

Racheal Kundananji while at Indeni Roses in 2018 - Afrocritik
Racheal Kundananji while at Indeni Roses in 2018.

Her standout displays for the Zambian national team during her time at Indeni Roses included scoring three goals in three matches at the 2018 Women’s Africa Cup of Nations (WAFCON). This impressive performance led to her securing a significant move to BIIK Shymkent in Kazakhstan at just 18 years old. 

While playing for BIIK Shymkent in Kazakhstan, Kundananji contributed to the team’s consecutive league title victories in 2019 and 2020, as well as securing the Kazakhstani Women’s Cup three times.

Before departing this month, Kundananji had already made a significant impact in Liga F this season, being directly involved in ten goals. She scored eight times and provided two assists, showcasing her effectiveness on the field. Notably, she achieved a remarkable feat during a matchday 2 encounter away to Sevilla, securing her second hat-trick in Spanish football.

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Madrid CFF is, however, not her first club in Spain. Before moving to the capital, she had also played for SD Eibar, also in Liga F. This was after her time at BIIK Kazygurt ended. She scored eight goals and provided one assist in her 31 appearances for the club.

Kundananji at Madrid CFF - Afrocritik
Kundananji at Madrid CFF

At Bay FC, she will be teaming up with two notable players: Asisat Oshoala, the reigning African Footballer of the Year, who has made the move from Barcelona, and Princess Marfo, a promising young talent hailing from the Right To Dream Academy in Ghana, who joins the team from Nordsjaelland. This trio promises to bring a wealth of talent and diversity to the squad, with Kundananji’s experience and goal-scoring prowess complementing Oshoala’s proven track record and Marfo’s emerging potential. They will guarantee goals as they look to compete against other teams in the league and try to usurp fellow State rivals, San Diego Wave FC, who are current champions of the league. 

Kundananji’s exceptional speed and goal-scoring ability have long been admired. The years have seen her evolve into a more tactically aware and physically dominant player, making her a consistent threat on the field. At the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup, she scored in Zambia’s only win in the competition against Costa Rica. She also has 10 goals in total for the Copper Queens of Zambia after 18 international appearances.

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Kundananji’s transfer makes her the first Zambian international player to compete in the NWSL, and her inclusion extends representation from Africa to seven nations in the league’s history. Zambia joins Algeria, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Ghana, Nigeria, and South Africa as countries that have been represented in the NWSL.

Tuka Letura is an experienced sports writer with over five years of experience in the craft. He uses data and statistics to provide analysis and commentary. From regional to worldwide competitions, he has covered a wide range of sports-related events and topics. He is devoted to sharing his enthusiasm for sports with his audience and engaging them with interesting anecdotes and viewpoints.

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