Two excellent finishes by Hildah Magaia give the Banyana Banyana of South Africa their maiden WAFCON title in front of a hostile home crowd in Rabat, Morocco Saturday night
The 12th edition of WAFCON came to an exciting close at the Prince Moulay Abdellah Stadium, Rabat with two teams that unarguably deserved to be at the final going toe-to-toe with each other in front of a capacity crowd, the highest ever in African women’s football history.
Both teams’ head coaches Reynald Pedros (Morocco) and Desiree Ellis (South Africa) stuck to the tactical plans that carried them all through the competition so it was not a surprise when both sides played out a cagey and tactical first 45 minutes with chances few and far between.
While the Moroccans marginally edged the first half, Ellis’ Banyana came out smoking in the second and deservedly went in front after the hour mark. Sejong Sportstoto forward Hildah Magaia tapping home after a brilliant run by Jermaine Seoposenwe.
The Atlas Lionesses poured forward for a response but were instead stung further at the other end. It was Magaia that once again got on the end of Karabo Dhlamini’s cross to finish with aplomb from close range in the 71st minute.
Morocco however ensured there was a grandstand finish to the final after Rosella Ayane finished Fatima Tagnaout’s square pass in the 80th minute for 2-1.
South Africa held on for the remainder of the game, including a lengthy period of stoppage time to win Africa’s showpiece women’s football competition for the first time ever.
The final was witnessed by dignitaries which included the FIFA Secretary General Fatma Samoura, CAF President Patrice Motsepe and former footballers, men and women among whom were former African Footballers of the Year Mercy Akide-Udoh, Perpetua Nkwocha and Alberta Sackey.
South Africa were the biggest winners on the day as they won the tournament’s FairPlay Award following their impressive disciplinary record in the competition while their goalkeeper Andile Dlamini was named the Best Goalkeeper. Morocco captain Ghizlane Chebbak was named tournament’s Most Valuable Player.
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Nigerian referee Mimisen Iyorhe Calvin-Onwuka was the Assistant Referee I in the final where she flanked Rwandan Salima Mukansanga, the centre referee.
The two finalists and the teams they defeated in the semi final; Nigeria and Zambia have all booked their spots at the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup to be staged in Australia and New Zealand.