24 July 01:11
Banyana Banyana broke their long-standing curse - on their sixth attempt - to win the 2022 Women's Africa Cup of Nations (WAFCON), edging host nation Morocco 2-1 at the Prince Moulay Abdellah Stadium on Saturday.
Three goals were scored in the second half, with Hildah Magaia netting a brace and Rosella Ayane putting fear into the visitors late in the match with her consolation strike.
But the South African ladies earned a hard-fought victory against a determined Moroccan outfit, who were eager to raise the trophy in front of 52 000-strong home crowd.
Banyana had been denied in five previous Women's Afcon finals – 1995, 2000, 2008, 2012 and 2018 – and at the 2022 edition, tasted glory for the first time in the history of the national senior women's team.
It was also the first time since Bafana Bafana's heroics in 1996 that a senior national football team was victorious in the Nations' Cup.
Banyana return to South Africa on Tuesday, 26 July, with gold medals and an unbeaten streak more than a month since arriving in Rabat, Morocco, on Wednesday, 22 June, more than a week before the tournament kick-started.
Coach Desiree Ellis's charges defeated tournament favourites Nigeria in their opening match before seeing off Burundi and Botswana to end top of Group C.
Slender 1-0 victories against Tunisia and Zambia in the quarter-finals and semi-finals, respectively, set up the final against Morocco, who knocked out Nigeria to ensure that a first-time champion will be crowned.
It was a nervy start to the final. Both Morocco and Banyana could not muster clean enough passes as the roars from the sold-out crowd looked to have gotten to the players on the field.
However, Banyana threatened first when Jermaine Seoposenwe showed tenacity in bursting forward, fending off a Moroccan defender in the hosts' penalty area before knocking the ball towards Magaia, who put a strike towards the goal, but her effort was too gentle as a red shirt cleared the danger.
Magaia would get another chance courtesy of the help from Seoposenwe, who again provided the perfect pass to her teammate.
This time, however, Magaia attempted to chip the ball over the Moroccan goalkeeper Khadija Er-Rmichi but it ricocheted off the shoulder, and the Banyana forward attempted to backheel it into the back of the net on her second attempt, only for Nesryne El Chad to boot the ball out the danger area.
On the cusp of half-time, Morocco nearly broke the deadlock as Fatima Tagnaout darted beyond the Banyana defence and played in the perfect low cross in the 18th area with Ayane arriving late, but her left-footed strike went narrowly wide.
For all of her missed goal-scoring chances throughout the tournament, Magaia netted the opening goal 18 minutes into the second period that Seoposenwe superbly assisted. Nine minutes later, Magaia doubled Banyana's lead, dinking the goalkeeper as she dove to stop the strike.
However, in almost typical South African fashion, it would become even more of a nervy ending as Morocco's Ayana netted in the 80th minute with nine minutes of stoppage time added on. Somehow, through grit and character, they held on to clinch their first African title.
24 July 00:13
Banyana Banyana have officially been crowned the 2022 Team of the Year at the CAF Awards
*It confirmed to be decided at the end of the final.
24 July 00:04
Banyana Banyana will return to South Africa on Tuesday, 26 July.
Where: O.R Tambo International Airport
24 July 00:01
Banyana arrived in Morocco on Wednesday, 22 June and have gone all the way to the final on Saturday, 23 July.
What a journey!
24 July 00:00
Incredible scenes. Elation. What a game. History makers, Banyana have done the unthinkable. Over forty days in camp including the tournament in Morocco.
There are tears of joy and sorrow. There are frowns and there are smiles.
The South Africans are dancing and are deserved winners.
Time to party (in) South Africa!
23 July 23:49
23 July 23:46
88' The whole Moroccan team excluding their goalkeeper are in the Banyana end of the pitch as they force this late onslaught.
23 July 23:45
23 July 23:44
86' During all the chaos Magaia has been replaced with what seems to be cramp. Kgadiete is now on in her place.
23 July 23:42
23 July 23:40
Morocco gets the better of Banyana who have now lost all concentration as it is 2-v-2 with Tagnaout plays in Ayane who then with ease slots in a low strike beyond the Dlamini's reach.
23 July 23:32
The all-important cushioning second goal by Banyana is courtesy of Magaia as she dinks the 'keeper - and this time the ball rolls over the goal line despite it being chased down.
Banyana 2-0 Morocco
23 July 23:30
70' Now for fresh legs as Banyana coach Desiree Ellis makes the first change: Kgoale off, Biyana on.
23 July 23:23
What a build-up to a special goal!
Seoposenwe receives a searching ball on the left flank and she darts forward with pace fending off a Moroccan defender and tees it up for Magaia. And after several missed chances before, she ensures that she laces it beyond the goalkeeper's reach to take the lead.
23 July 23:20
60' Jane has now played two bad passes during an enthralling counterattack by South Africa. She looks leggy and perhaps tired.
23 July 23:17
23 July 23:14
FACTS: This is South Africa’s 7th meeting with a WAFCON host. They have lost all of their previous six encounters against the hosts.
Morocco are the fourth host nation they will face along with Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea and Nigeria.
It is their third meeting in a final with a host. They lost to Equatorial Guinea in 2008 and 2012.
23 July 23:13
23 July 22:49
What a moderately entertaining 45 minutes in where Banyana should be grabbing the bull by the horns. Victory is there for the taking.
Morocco has not faired well in the final third but has shown that if given space and time they could pull the trigger.
Meanwhile, Banyana again missing that killer instinct in front of goal but can certainly redeem themselves in the second stanza.
23 July 22:46
23 July 22:44
40' WOW! What a great passage of play for Morocco. Tagnaout with immense pace darts forward on the left flank and has time to put in a low cross into the Banyana penalty area. Ayane charges in with pace and was slightly too eager as she had to reach from an uncomfortable position to get her left boot onto the ball, which she did.
Her effort, however, goes wide and for a goalkick.
23 July 22:41
39' CHANCE! Magaia knocks 30-yard free-kick well wide with a left strike. She indeed has had now three opportunities at goal with all unanswered.
23 July 22:40
23 July 22:39
36' What a golden chance for Banyana as Seoposenwe is the provider to Magaia who charges forward and attempts to dink the 'keeper but Er-Rmichi saves it but not out of danger. Magaia latches onto the ball again with a back flick towards the goal but El Chad boots it to safety.
23 July 22:28
25' Chebbak sends a searching ball into the penalty area from a dead-ball situation but Seoposenwe deals with it and knocks it out for a corner-kick but the referee deems it to be a goal kick instead for South Africa.
The Moroccans are not happy with that decision.
23 July 22:25
FACTS: Host nations have lost in the final twice previously, South Africa in 2000 and Cameroon in 2016, both to Nigeria.
Victory for either nation will see them become the second country along with Nigeria to have their men’s and women’s teams crowned continental champions.
Morocco were AFCON winners in 1976 and South Africa in 1996.
23 July 22:23
18' A very reserved approach now as each team attempting to find space when on the ball but the result in the final third of the pitch for both Morocco and Banyana has not worked out.
23 July 22:16
FACTS: The 2018 final is the only edition to end 0-0 and be decided on penalties. Nigeria won a 9th title, defeating South Africa on spot kicks.
23 July 22:13