Player Profile: Kika Nazareth

Teenaged sensation turning heads and making her name heard with Benfica and Portugal.

Kika training with the Portuguese National Team

In this first ever player profile I’ve chosen to spotlight one of the brightest rising stars within the club in any sport. Francisca Ramos Ribeiro Nazareth Sousa was born in Lisbon on 17th of November 2002. Fast forward 18 and a half years (more or less) and she is now known simply as Kika Nazareth or even simpler as just Kika as it says on the back of her match jersey. Kika is a creative attacking midfielder that really burst onto scene in a big way in 2021.

Today Kika has 31 Senior level first team appearances but her senior debut was back in April of 2019. She debuted with the first team away to Amora FC in a Portuguese Second Division match back in the Women’s Football team’s first season of existence. Nobody today is surprised that the then 16 year old debuted in the best way possible, by scoring a goal off the bench after being subbed in in the 56th minute. Throughout the rest of that 2018/19 season Kika was doing her thing in Benfica’s Youth team. At that time in Portugal there did not exist and 11 a-side football competition for girls nor was there a National Championship, only regional ones. Benfica was dominant as champions of the Lisbon FA’s U19 Girls Championship playing 9 a-side. The following season the FPF launched the first ever Under 19 Girls National Championship and decided clubs would have to field 11 v. 11 sides in order to compete. Kika was dominant as we would expect playing 9 a-side especially with all the extra touches she would get with 2 less teammates on the pitch. In that season playing U19 Kika tallied 30 goals in 16 appearances.

In 2019-20 Kika was promoted to the first team roster but also featured in 9 youth matches scoring 18 goals from the central attacking midfield position. In addition she gained some more experience with the first team earning minutes in the Liga BPI, League Cup and Portuguese Cup. In total, she would feature twice in the top flight, twice in the Cup and thrice in the League Cup. In total she would find the back of the net 3 times as senior player in 2019-20 which we all know was a season that was cut short and eventually cancelled due to the COVID 19 outbreak.

2020-21 is where Kika would truly announce herself on the main stage with Benfica’s first team. Early in the season she debuted in Women’s Football’s premier club competition the UEFA Women’s Champions League and after Benfica’s exit to tournament favorite Chelsea in the Round of 32 manager Luis Andrade left the club and was replaced by her former youth coach Filipa Patao. Patao’s arrival combined with unfortunate injuries to club captain Darlene and fellow Brazilian National Team midfielder Ana Vitoria opened the door for the now 18 year old Kika to slide into the starting XI and she made the most of the opportunity. The new manager’s preference for a “Diamond 4” in midfield suited Kika’s game perfectly. So far this season Kika has 13 appearances in Liga BPI and has 8 goals to her name playing as a true “Number 10” at the front tip of the midfield diamond. In all competitions Kika has amassed 1178 minutes on the pitch as of today (29 April) in 20 total appearances. She has an unbelievable knack to find the open spaces in between the opponents defensive lines in a league where virtually almost every opponent approaches Benfica with deep lying low blocks in an effort to stymie their attack. Kika possesses the ability to shoot from range with both feet and has a keen eye for picking out her teammates’ runs and delivering deadly vertical passes with pinpoint accuracy. At just 18 years old she has rare combination of high level tactical awareness and fantastic technical ability.

Don’t take my word for it though, as I am not the only who has noticed the talent in this teenager. Earlier this month she caught the attention of Portugal Women’s National Team manager Francisco Neto. Neto not only called Kika into the senior National Team for the first time in what would be the two most important matches of the last 5 years, but put her directly into his starting XI for both legs of the Euro 2022 qualification play off. In the first leg in Lisbon Kika was easily the most influential player on the pitch for the first 45 minutes as the Russian struggled to keep pace with her and scrambled in attempt to cut off her passing lanes. If not for the performance of the Russian goalkeeper the story of the entire playoff may have turned out differently. Unfortunately Portugal were unable to find the goalover the course of the 180 minutes and the Russians capitalized on a lone blunder by Portugal’s Goalkeeper Patricia Morais in the first leg. As a result Portugal will unfortunately not be at Euro 2022. Regardless of that however, Kika is now widely known as a promising talent in the women’s game. So much so that super agent Jorge Mendes was convinced enough to sign her to his Polaris Sports agency making her his first female footballer and adding her name to the other stars he represents such as Cristiano Ronaldo, Bernardo Silva, Jose Mourinho, Renato Sanches and Joao Felix just to name a few.

Kika’s emergence on the scene has corresponded with Benfica’s rebirth this season after it seemed the title was out of reach. With 4 rounds to play Benfica trail Sporting only by 2 points with the Lisbon rivals meeting on the final day at Alcochete. If Benfica can win out they will be crowned Champions of the top flight for the first time and no doubt if that happens this teenager will be a major reason why. She’s an integral piece in a core of talented young Benfica players along with Catarina Amado, Beatriz Cameirao, Andreia Faria, and Ana Seica that could be the heart of Benfica and the Portuguese National Team in the coming years. Obviously as she is represented by Jorge Mendes and that means a move to one of the top leagues in Europe such as the English, French or German could also be in her future and who knows possibly even earn the club a transfer fee as the marketability and profile of women’s football in Europe continues to explode. I believe we are seeing the baby steps of Portuguese Women’s Football’s first bonafide super star. Which other of the club’s up and coming athletes would you like to see profiled here in this space? Let me know by emailing your suggestions to

Published by Mike Agostinho

Former Coach turned Podcaster/Blogger involving all things Sport Lisboa and Benfica from the perspective of the Mister and in English for Benfiquistas all over the English speaking world.

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