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Friday, March 31, 2023

South Africa beat Morocco to land first title – Citi Sports Online

South Africa ended decades of heartbreak and four previous final failures when beating host nation Morocco 2-1 to win the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations for the first time.

Hilda Magaia proved Banyana Banyana’s hero, scoring two quick goals midway through the second half to finally guide South Africa over the line.

Although Rosella Ayane pulled a goal back for the Atlas Lionesses ten minutes from time, it was too little too late for a team making its first appearance in the final.

South Africa had lost their four previous finals: in 2000, 2008, 2012 and 2018.

“It was a humbling experience, and an emotional one, when you look at the journey that we have travelled as Banyana Banyana,” captain Refiloe Jane told BBC Sport Africa.

“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.”

For Banyana Banyana coach Desire Ellis, this was a hugely-satisfying win after first trying – and failing – as a player to win the trophy when losing the final 22 years ago.

After Ellis oversaw another final defeat, against Nigeria, four years ago from the touchline, her charges entered this tournament with a so-called ‘mentality coach’ in a bid to improve positivity.

“It feels amazing,” she told the BBC. “I’m an African champion now – and no one can take that away from us.”

South Africa needed real composure throughout the game to silence a raucous home crowd that had filled the 53,000-seater stadium at least two hours before kick-off, and which lit up the Rabat sky with dozens of red and white flares during the game.

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