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South Africa beat Nigeria in Women's AFCON group game

BY: Rosalind Amoh
The South African team at the 2022 Women's AFCON
The South African team at the 2022 Women's AFCON

South Africa's Bayana Bayana are flying high at the ongoing Women's Africa Cup of Nations tournament in Morocco as they registered two goals in quick succession to beat Nigeria's Super Falcons 2-1 in their opening Group C game.

After a rather drub first half, goals from Jermaine Seoposenwe in the 61st minute and Hildah T. Magala in the 63rd minute enabled the South Africans conquer their bitter rivals for the first time in the WAFCON.

It was a significant victory, only the second in their history, following up from their 4-2 win in the Ayisha Buhari Cup in Lagos last September.

In a game considered the biggest as it pitched the 2018 champions against the runners up and the two most glamorous sides on the continent, expectations were high and both sides had their stars on show, Nigeria parading Asisat Oshoala and Rashedat Ajibade. South Africa on the other hand had Thembi Kgatlana and Seoposenwe for battle.

However, the beginning of the game lacked that drive and excitement as they both played cautiously, unwilling to take any costly risks. Thus the first half ended without much incident.

The second half got off to an improved tempo, each side scheming to get the better of the other.

For Nigeria however, their depth of quality in the individual players did not reflect in their team performance, which saw them struggle to even possess play.

And when Oshoala was taken off for what looked like a knee injury concern, the team became further exposed, with many question marks about their defence.

Her exit proved a blessing for the South Africans who had showed her expected respect, and once she was off, they took charge.

In the 60th minute, Seoposenwe made no mistake as she picked a spot past goalkeeper Tochukwu Oluehi after she had been well fed with a pass in the 18-yard box.

Two minutes later, Magala will make it 2-0 as the Nigerians watched in horror, a goal created from nothing.
Taking off, Magala latched onto a long cross, made use of the space a defensive lapse had caused to slot the ball in.

The reaction on the two benches aptly described the contrasting feeling - joy on the South African bench, and disbelief at the Nigerian half.

And try as they did, the nine times WAFCON Champions had no antidote for the runners up who at this point were brimming with confidence and dictating the pace.

With time added on, the Super Falcons tried to salvage the situation and fought back, as Ajibade pulled one back in the 92nd minute. It was however, an effort too late, as the final whistle went moments after to end the game 2-1.

The other Group C encounter saw Botswana pummel Burundi 4:1.