The women’s national football team of South Africa made history by lifting the Women African Cup of Nations (WAfCON) 2022 last night. After a tough battle, the spirited South Africans beat host Morocco 2-1 on their home soil to lift the WAfCON 2022.
Last night’s victory sees the South African team win their first WAfCON title since their first appearance in the competition 22 years ago. Despite appearing in the final of the competition four different times before, the South Africans have never won the trophy until now.
On a night when many records were broken and women’s football in the continent took a positive turn, South Africa’s Hilda Magaia proved to be the hero of the night. The Banyana Banyana star scored two quick goals midway through the second half, which proved enough to guide South Africa over the line.
Although Morocco’s Rosella Ayane was able to pull a goal back for the Atlas Lionesses ten minutes before the final whistle, the Lioness could not pull back an equalizer before the end of the game.
It was also a record-breaking night for the Moroccan women’s national team, as it was their first appearance in a WAfCON final.
The hosts beat defending champions and African women’s football powerhouse Nigeria on penalties 5-4 in the quarter-final game to book their place in the finals against South Africa. Both teams were not short of motivation to lift the trophy, but the South Africans won the day.
You will recall that the South African national women’s team had lost their four previous finals. They played in the 2000, 2008, 2012, and 2018 finals and lost. Before winning their fifth final appearance – a feat that the country hopes to build on in the future.
“It was a humbling experience, and an emotional one, when you look at the journey that we have travelled as Banyana Banyana,” South Africa’s Captain Refiloe Jane told reporters.
“To finally get to this point meant a lot for everyone. When the final whistle went out, I was crying. It was the most humbling and emotional experience.
“I don’t think I’ve ever cried so much after a football match - that goes to show our journey, everything that we had to go through and things have finally come together.”
Speaking on the victory, the Banyana Banyana coach Desire Ellis said it was a hugely satisfying victory. Desire Ellis was part of the Banyana Banyana team that failed to win the trophy 22 years ago after her team lost at the finals.
She was also part of the team that lost another final to Nigeria four years ago from the touchline. So, she had the motivation and positive mentality going into the last game of this year’s completion.
“It feels amazing,” she told the BBC. “I’m an African champion now - and no one can take that away from us.”
The Moroccan team enjoyed huge support from their supporters, who filled the 53,000-seater stadium two hours before kick-off. But the South Africans brought the Rabat stadium to silence after the final whistle as Moroccan fans made their exit from the stadium.
Congratulations to the new African women's football champions.