Striker Hildah Magaia scored both goals for South Africa to defeat host Morocco 2-1 on Saturday to win their first-ever TotalEnergies Women’s Africa Cup of Nations title.
Two second-half goals by the South Korea-based attacker set Banyana Banyana on their way to their first continental title in Rabat with strikes in 63rd and 71st minutes.
Rosella Ayane restored some hope for the teeming home fans when she scored with ten minutes remaining to ensure a tense finish of the match at the Prince Moulay Abdallah Stadium.
Despite the late efforts of the home side to restore parity South African held on to win their first title after five failed attempts in the final of the continent’s flagship women’s competition.
Banyana Banyana were determined to break the hoodoo of their previous five appearances in the final and took charge of the game with Magaia and Jermaine Seoposenwe combining effectively to cause problems for the Atlas Lionesses defence.
Hanane Ait El Haj cleared the ball off the line after Magaia received a pass from Seoposenwe and outwitted the goalkeeper Khadija Er-Rmichi on three minutes.
Er-Rmichi charged off her line to deny Magaia from breaking the deadlock in the 35thminute and moments later the latter’s free-kick from the edge of the box went just wide.
Morocco were pinned to their half as they relied on counter-attacks initiated by the talented Fatima Tagnaout but on each occasion they met a resolute Banyana defence.
Tagnaout caused several problems for the South African defenders on the left and just before the break she combined with Ayane but the Tottenham ace failed to connect the pass inside the box.
Hildah Tholakele Magaia of South Africa celebrates goal during the 2022 Women’s Africa Cup of Nations Final between Morocco and South Africa at Prince Moulay Abdellah Stadium in Rabat, Morocco on 23 July 2022
Just after the hour mark, South Africa broke the deadlock when Magaia had the simple task of just tapping in after Seoposenwe made light work of two defenders on the left before laying the inviting pass.
Banyana doubled their lead moments later when Karabo Dhlamini’s cross from the left was met by Magaia’s simple tap-in to silence the vociferous home supporters.
The Atlas Lionesses restored some hope in the 80th minute when Tagnaout took advantage of a defensive error to intelligently set up Ayane who made no mistake from inside the box.
The home side launched several attacks into the South African area but the more experienced Banyana Banyana defenders were resolute until the final whistle to spark celebrations among the small number of travelling fans.