Banyana Banyana Of South Africa Wins First WAFCON Title

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Banyana Banyana of South Africa claimed its first Women’s Africa Cup of Nations (WAFCON) title after beating hosts Morocco 2-1 in the final on Saturday, courtesy of goals from striker Hildah Magaia at the Prince Moulay Abdallah Stadium in Rabat.

Banyana Banyana were determined to break the jinx of their previous five appearances in the final and took charge of the game with Magaia and Jermaine Seoposenwe combining effectively to cause problems for the Atlas Lionesses defence.

Goalkeeper Er-Rmichi charged off her line to deny Magaia from breaking the deadlock in the 35th minute and moments later the latter’s free-kick from the edge of the box went just wide. Both sides defended admirably as they were determined not to give away any cheap goals in Rabat.

Morocco were pinned to their half as they relied on counter-attacks initiated by the talented Fatima Tagnaout, but on each occasion they met a resolute Banyana defence.

In the second half, South Africa broke the deadlock in the 63rd minute when Magaia had the simple task of just tapping in after Seoposenwe made light work of two defenders on the left, before laying the inviting pass.

South African striker Hildah Magaia (8) celebrates goal against Morocco in 2022 WAFCON final.

Banyana Banyana continued to pile on more pressure against hosts Morocco and were rewarded a few minutes later after a beautiful piece of play.

South Africa doubled their lead when Karabo Dhlamini’s cross from the left was met by Magaia’s simple tap-in to silence the home supporters.

South African striker Hildah Magaia (8) celebrates second goal against Morocco in 2022 WAFCON final.

Two second-half goals by the South Korea-based attacker set Banyana Banyana on its way to their first continental title in Rabat, but the hosts were determined to get back into the game.

Rosella Ayane gave the Atlas Lionesses of Morocco a glimmer of hope with ten minutes remaining to ensure a tense finish of the match. Tagnaout took advantage of a defensive error to intelligently set up Rosella Ayane, who made no mistake from inside the box.

Despite the late efforts of Morocco to equalise, South Africa held on to win their first title after five failed attempts in the final of the continent’s flagship women’s competition.

“Honestly, it has not yet dawned on us that we are African champions. This feels like a dream to us. I know eventually when we sit down, we shall realise that it is actually true,” South Africa’s captain Refiloe Jane said after the match.

“When we look back at the journey, it is going to be a tough one. When I lifted the trophy, there was so much going through my mind. This is big for South Africa, for Women’s Football. I cannot wait to get back home. They have been supporting us since day one.”

“Today, we saw a united South Africa. It is something that we had hoped for. We wanted to bring hope and bring back smiles to South Africans. We are grateful for the support that they have shown to us,” Jane concluded.

Hilda Magaia whose brace secured the WAFCON title for South Africa was named the Woman of the Match and finished as joint top scorer at the 2022 edition with three goals alongside Moroccan captain Ghizlane Chebbak and Nigeria’s Rasheedat Ajibade.

South Africa, who were named the National Team of the Year, were also named as the Fair Play Team.

 

Chidi Nwoke/CAF.