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South Africa defeat Nigeria in WAFCON opener

SOUTH Africa got off to a flying start following a 2-1 win over nine-time record African champions Nigeria in their first Group C encounter at the ongoing 2022 TotalEnergies Women’s Africa Cup of Nations in Morocco. 

Desiree Ellis’ outfit scored twice in two minutes thanks to Jermaine Seoposenwe and Hilda Magaia goals in the 60th and 62nd minutes to destabilize their opponents, who were caught off-guard by the quick firing South Africans. 

Banyana Banyana made their intentions clear right from kickoff, pushing forward with Thembi Kgatlana and Seoposenwe asking the right questions and building momentum, which explained the 61% ball possession they registered at the end of the game.

Ellis said in the post-match press conference that “This is a very big win for us as a team. We needed to get this result because it sets the tone for the rest of the tournament. We had a meeting before we started training to talk about our goals and ambitions. We want to qualify for the World Cup and win the title here.”

“We know what happened in 2018, but we have matured over the past four years and there are changes in our team. Jermaine played about four positions today. That is the versatility we have now as a team.” 

“This victory is for everyone back home and for all the coaches. This is for everyone connected to women’s football back home,” a content Ellis added. 

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This is South Africa’s second win over Nigeria in the past 10 months, having stunned the defending champions 4-2 in the Aisha Buhari Invitational Cup in Lagos. 

For Nigeria, this is a new horizon that they find themselves in as for the second WAFCON in a row they have lost to the same side in their opening game of the tournament. 

Poster girl Asisat Oshoala kicked off the game with a shot at goal, but the South African defence had their antennas up communicating well with goalkeeper Andile Dlamini, who read the game perfectly well to build confidence within her teammates. 

In the 25th minute, Oshoala came close to finding the back of the net but Dlamini was quick to the rescue before veteran Noko Matlou fouled Rasheedat Ajibade to concede a freekick, which did not amount to much. 

Nigeria’s Alozie Chinwen weaved her way into the box but her shot went wide off the mark in the 37th minute as the Super Falcons kept their foot on the gear.

Two minutes later, defender Plumptre Ashleigh Megan aimed at goal from the left wing after a smooth run into the box but her attempt went straight into Dlamini’s hands. 

In the second half, Banyana Banyana took control of their destiny and the Seoposenwe goal at the hour mark was a timely reward for their consistency. 

Magaia’s fine finish two minutes later hurt the Nigerians’ confidence and their body language was telling, but they picked themselves up thereafter and sought to get back into the game. 

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They eventually found a goal in the 92nd minute, thanks to an incredible finish by Rasheedat Ajibade, but it was too late as South Africa reorganized themselves and bagged the three points. 

“Despite the loss, we are still positive in camp. It is obviously the first game of the tournament so we have to go back and regroup. We have to increase our urgency in the fighting spirit because we are encouraged by it. We have to play the way we played in the last 10-15 minutes so that we get going,” explained Nigeria’s coach Randy Waldrum. 

South Africa now top Group C ahead of their next game against Burundi on Thursday, July 7 at 1700hrs GMT while Nigeria take on Botswana on the same day at 2000hrs GMT. – CAFONLINE

By The African Mirror