South Africa kicked off the 2022 TotalEnergies Women’s Africa Cup of Nations in Morocco with a 2-1 win over nine-time African champions Nigeria in their first Group C match.
Jermaine Seoposenwe and Hilda Magaia goals in the 60th and 62nd minutes helped Desiree Ellis’ team unsettle their opponents, who were taken off guard by the quick-firing South Africans.
Banyana Banyana’s intentions were evident from the start, with Thembi Kgatlana and Seoposenwe asking the appropriate questions and building momentum, which explains their 61 percent ball possession at the end of the game.
“This is a really meaningful win for us as a team,” Ellis stated in the post-match press conference. This result was critical since it set the tone for the rest of the tournament. Before we started training, we had a meeting to discuss our goals and ambitions. We aim to make the World Cup and win the championship here.”
“We know what happened in 2018, but we have evolved over the last four years, and our squad has changed.” Jermaine played four different positions today. That is the level of versatility we currently have as a club.”
“This triumph belongs to everyone back home as well as all of the coaches.” “This is for everyone involved in women’s football back home,” Ellis added.
South Africa has defeated Nigeria twice in the last ten months, most recently in the Aisha Buhari Invitational Cup in Lagos, where they defeated the defending winners 4-2.
For Nigeria, this is a new vista, as they have fallen to the same team in their opening game of the tournament for the second time in a row.
Poster girl Asisat Oshoala opened the scoring with a shot on goal, but the South African defense was on high alert, communicating brilliantly with goalkeeper Andile Dlamini, who read the game wonderfully to instill confidence in her colleagues.
Oshoala came close to scoring in the 25th minute, but Dlamini came to his rescue before veteran Noko Matlou fouled Rasheedat Ajibade, resulting in a freekick that did not amount to much.
Alozie Chinwen of Nigeria twisted her way into the box, but her effort sailed wide in the 37th minute as the Super Falcons maintained their foot on the gas.
After a smooth move into the box, defender Plumptre Ashleigh Megan tried at goal from the left flank, but her attempt was saved by Dlamini.
Banyana Banyana gained control of their destiny in the second half, and the Seoposenwe goal at the hour mark was a fitting reward for their perseverance.
Magaia’s superb finish two minutes later shook the Nigerians’ confidence, and their body language was apparent, but they quickly recovered and sought to re-enter the game.
They finally scored in the 92nd minute, with to a stunning finish by Rasheedat Ajibade, but it was too late as South Africa reassembled and won the game.
“Despite the loss, we remain optimistic in camp.” We have to go back and refocus since this is certainly the first game of the tournament. We must strengthen our fighting spirit’s urgency since it is encouraging. “We need to play like we did in the last 10-15 minutes to get going,” Nigeria coach Randy Waldrum remarked.
South Africa now leads Group C ahead of their next match against Burundi on Thursday, July 7 at 1700hrs GMT, while Nigeria plays Botswana at the same time.