South Africa wins the 1st Women’s African Cup of Nations in its history
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After five losing finals, the South African women’s football team won the African Cup of Nations for the first time in its history by beating Morocco 2-1.
This is a first for the Banyana Banyana. South Africa won its first women’s African Cup of Nations (CAN) in Rabat on Saturday (July 23rd) by beating Morocco in the final 2-1, thanks to a brace from striker Hildah Magaia.
The South African striker, untenable throughout the meeting, thus offers the Banyana Banyana their first CAN after five lost finals.
« They wanted to win this cup so badly and now it’s done, » rejoiced Desiree Ellis, the South African coach, who praised the « character of the team ».
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Magaia first flat-footed a back cross in the 63rd minute, then did it again eight minutes later by spiking the ball over Moroccan goalkeeper Khadija Er-Rmichi.
Tottenham player Rosella Ayane reduced the score for the Atlas Lionesses in the 80th minute. But too late.
Despite the Moroccans’ pressing, the solid South African defense held on until the end of nine minutes of extra time.
A final played in oppressive heat
The two teams came to the break with the score 0-0 after a balanced first half without a spark, apart from the cracking of smoke emitting thick smoke above the lawn.
The only chance came in the 36th minute when Hildah Magaia threatened goalkeeper Er-Rmichi with a low heel.
In the second half, the well-organised South Africans looked fresher than their dull rivals.
« We would have liked to win this CAN but we were tired, » admitted Lionesses coach Reynald Pedros after the match.
This final was played in oppressive heat, forcing the players to hydrate regularly, in a packed Prince Moulay Abdellah stadium (45,000 spectators).
With three injuries and six changes of players in total, the meeting left its mark on the organizations.
The first Arab country to reach the final of the women’s CAN, Morocco leaves the competition with its head held high after eliminating Nigeria, the favorite team, already multi-crowned and defending champion.
Like South Africa, it will participate in the Women’s World Cup in a year’s time in Australia and New Zealand.