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Thursday, September 28, 2023

2022 WAFCON: Magaia’s brace spurs South Africa past hosts Morocco to give Banyana Banyana first WAFCON crown

South Africa’s Banyana Banyana finally got the continental title that has eluded them after capturing the 2022 Africa Women Cup of Nations with a 2-0 victory over hosts Morocco in Saturday’s final. Hildah Magaia scored both goals for Banyana Banyana, who had failed to win in five previous appearances in the final but overcame the last hurdle and a vocal home crowd to become champions of Africa. Rosella Ayane created plenty of suspense with her late goal for Morocco but the Atlas Lionesses could not complete their comeback, ending an outstanding tournament that saw them advance to the knockout stage for the first time in their history.

Both teams, spurred by a packed Prince Moulay Abdellah Stadium in Rabat, came out with plenty of energy but also nerves that prevented efficiency in the attack. Morocco goalkeeper Khadija Er-Rmichi came up with an important save in the 36th minute after Banyana Banyana star Jermaine Seoposenwe sent Thalea Smidt in on goal with a clever through ball. Morocco were certainly competitive but it took a while for their first decent look at goal, which finally came towards the end of the half when influential left winger Fatima Tagnaout’s cross set up Rosella Ayane for a first time shot that went harmlessly wide.

South Africa did brilliantly to limit the influence of the home support and silenced the crowd by opening the scoring in the 63rd minute. Center back Bambanani Mbane intercepted a pass and her lofted ball sent Seoposenwe to the end line on the left wing before the Banyana Banyana star cross for Hildah Magaia to slot past Er-Rmichi.

Banyana Banyana doubled their lead with another incisive attack in the 71st minute. Seoposenwe laid a pass off to the left wing to find Karabo Dhlamini and the Mamelodi Sundowns Ladies player sent an early cross into the Moroccan penalty area. Morocco center back Nesyrne El Chad failed to make a play on the ball and Magaia pounced to lift a clever finish over the onrushing Er-Rmichi.

The second goal inspired the hosts to show some fight and the Atlas Lionesses halved the deficit after a costly giveaway by the South African defense allowed the Morocco’s star attacking trio to shine. Captain Ghizlane Chebbak moved the ball out wide to find Tagnaout on the wing, who crossed to Ayane for a low finish past Banyana keeper Andile Dlamini. However, South Africa composed themselves and held out against an energized Moroccan side as well as the reanimated crowd.

Highlights from Rabat are below.