Nigeria beat Banyana Banyana 4-3 in a penalty shoot out after the two teams were deadlocked 0-0 after 120 minutes of gruelling football in a final played in Accra, Ghana on Saturday afternoon.
It was a bitter pill to swallow for the Desiree Ellis side who were the better side throughout the normal playing time. In fact, Banyana Banyana played some scintillating football throughout this AWCON tournament in Ghana and will feel hard done by the final result, but such is football.
While Banyana Banyana will be proud of their achievements, losing to Nigeria is always something South Africa generally doesn’t take lightly.
Noko Matlou, Mpumi Nyandeni and Mamello Mkhabane all scored for the South Africans from the spot while Lebogang Ramalepe and Linda Motlhalo missed to hand the Super Falcons yet another continental title.
Despite the loss, Banyana Banyana are still expected to receive a hero’s welcome when they return home on Sunday at 17h30 and have since booked a place at the FIFA World Cup in France.
The match started in two teams’ typical fashion with Banyana Banyana keeping possession for long periods while the physically imposing Nigerians tried to muscle their way through.
Leandra Smeda was the first to have an attempt on goal but her long range efforts sailed over the bar.
Busisiwe Ndimeni then saw her long range shot tipped over the bar by the Nigerian keeper Oluehi Tochukwu as South Africa pressed forward.
It was a war of attrition in the midfield with both teams giving very little away.
Nigeria could have taken the lead when they were awarded a penalty in the 75th minute after the referee adjudged that Kaylin Swart had committed a foul in the box but Asat Oshoala’s tame effort went wide as the match remained deadlocked.
As the match went into extra time, both teams looked visibly fatigued but it was South Africa that fashioned better scoring chances with Thembi Kgatlana’s shot well saved by Tochukwu.
The match then went to penalty shootout where the Nigerians eventually prevailed 4-3.