Hildah Magaia was the hero for the Southern African giants as they won the continent crown for the first time after losing in five finals
South Africa were crowned 2022 Women’s Africa Cup of Nations champions after securing a 2-1 win over Morocco at Prince Moulay Abdellah Stadium in Rabat on Saturday night.
Hildah Magaia’s second half brace inspired Banyana Banyana to a narrow victory over the tournament hosts who grabbed what proved to be a consolation goal through Rosella Ayane.
It was a battle between two teams which were defeated in the tournament with Banyana having reached the final after edging out their Southern African rivals, Zambia 1-0 in a semi-final clash on Monday.
On the other hand, Morocco, who were making the first appearance in the Wafcon final, had caused an upset when they defeated reigning African champions Nigeria 5-4 on penalties on Monday after a 1-1 draw in another semi-final clash.
Recently crowned Caf African Women’s Coach of the Year Desiree Ellis recalled Nomvela Kgoalo to the starting line-up and the 26-year-old operated in Banyana’s midfield alongside Refiloe Jane and Linda Motlhalo.
Ellis’ counterpart, Reynald Petros made one change to the team which faced Nigeria as Imane Saoud made her second start of the tournament – operating as one of the front three.
The two teams cancelled each other out in the opening 20 minutes of the eagerly anticipated encounter with most of the ball being played in the middle of the park with neither side being able to create clear-cut chances. Both goalkeepers were not seriously tested with the lively Jane battling with Lionesses of Atlas’ influential playmaker Sanaa Mssoudy for control of the midfield.
The match began to open up just after the half-hour mark and the first real chance of the game fell for Magaia who was sent through on goal by Jermaine Seoposenwe’s incisive pass, but the former was denied by goalkeeper Khadija Er-Rmichi. The hosts did threaten when Fatima Tagnaout set up Ayane who fired wide of the target from inside the box and the score was 0-0 at half-time.
Banyana looked dangerous on the counter with the Lionesses of Atlas attacking in numbers after the restart with Petros’ side looking to break the deadlock. However, the hosts were left vulnerable at the back and Seoposenwe ran onto a long ball from Jane, before cutting inside and set up Magaia who made no mistake – beating Er-Rmichi with a low shot from inside the box to make it 1-0 to South Africa in the 63rd minute.
Morocco responded by surging forward in numbers – leaving space behind their defence and they were punished by Banyana again. This time Karabo Dhlamini delivered a cross which was slightly deflected, but the ball fell kindly for Magaia who fired past Er-Rmichi from close range to make it 2-0 to South Africa in the 72nd minute with the Lionesses of Atlas defence exposed.
Tagnaout, who had been quiet in the second half, burst into life in the closing stages of the game and the left-footed player set up Ayane whose first-time shot beat eventual 2022 Wafcon Goalkeeper of the Tournament Andile Dlamini to make it 2-1 – making it a nervy finish for Banyana with 10 minutes left. However, South Africa were able to contain Morocco in the dying minutes of the game and ultimately, they emerged as 2-1 winners.