South Africa defeats Morocco to win first Women’s AFCON title

South Africa won their first Women’s Africa Cup of Nations (AWCON) title after defeating hosts Morocco 2-1 in the final at the Prince Moulay Abdellah Stadium in Rabat on Saturday.

Second half goals from Hildah Magaia in the 63rd and 71st minutes put South Africa 2-0 ahead before Rosella Ayane pulled one back for Morocco 10 minutes from the end of normal time to set up a tense finale.

South Africa’s players celebrate with the trophy after winning the 2022 Women’s Africa Cup of Nations final match against Morocco at Prince Moulay Abdellah Stadium in Rabat. /CFP

South Africa’s win was their first in the final in six attempts having suffered defeats to Nigeria in 1995, 2000 and 2018 and Equatorial Guinea in 2008 and 2012.

South Africa is the third nation to win the WAFCON title, along with record nine-time champions Nigeria and Equatorial Guinea who have two titles. Banyana Banyana is also the first new winner of the tournament since Equatorial Guinea in 2008.

Victory also saw South Africa break a psychological barrier beating a WAFCON host for the first time in seven attempts having lost all of their previous six encounters.

South Africa’s captain Refiloe Jane said the reality of being crowned African champions felt like a dream and was yet to sink in.

Hildah Magaia’s brace earned South Africa an historic win in the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations and helped her finish as the tournament’s joint leading scorer. /CFP

“When I lifted the trophy, there was so much going through my mind. This is big for South Africa, for Women’s Football. I cannot wait to get back home. They have been supporting us since day one. Today, we saw a united South Africa. It is something that we had hoped for. We wanted to bring hope and bring back smiles to South Africans. We are grateful for the support that they have shown to us,” Jane told CAF’s media team.

There was double delight for South Africa as they also won the CAF Women’s National Team of the Year with the award being presented to South African Football Association president Danny Jordaan after the match.

South Africa also scooped individual and team awards at the tournament with Magaia being named Woman of the Match and joint top scorer (three goals) together with Morocco’s captain Ghizlane Chebbak and Nigeria’s Rasheedat Ajibade.

Ghizlane Chebbak of Morocco was named Player of the Tournament and also finished as the 2022 WAFCON joint top scorer. /CFP

Andile Dlamini won the goalkeeper of the tournament while there was some consolation for Chebbak who was named Player of the Tournament.

In Friday’s third/fourth place playoff, Zambia stunned Nigeria 1-0 in Casablanca to win the bronze medal with Nigerian goalkeeper Chiamaka Nnadozie’s own goal proving the difference.

This marked the first time in a decade that Nigeria failed to finish among the top three with the Super Falcons having also lost 1-0 to Cameroon in Equatorial Guinea in the bronze match.

(Story compiled with assistance from wire reports)