For the first time ever, there will be a new winner of the Africa Women Cup of Nations. The hosts, Morocco, against all odds, will take on South Africa who have also made great strides in women football on Saturday night.
Indeed, the tournament has been so much fun. The quality of football has been more than decent and the following has been remarkable, setting a new attendance record. 45,562 spectators witnessed the semifinal match between Morocco and Nigeria at the Prince Moullay Abdellah stadium. In truth, they made it an occasion.
The Super Falcons would exit with their heads high having played more than half of the entire match with two players sent off. Not least that one of the red-carded players was Rasheedat Ajibade. The newly crowned women’s player of the year had also been sidelined since the opening match.
Goalkeeper, Chiamaka was still struggling to accept the outcome hours after the gruelling penalty shootout exercise.
Even Zambia were left dissatisfied with how things panned out in their semifinal match against South Africa. The decider, unfortunately, was a contentious penalty.
But, as it is now, both losers will play a third-place match tonight.
And for the final, it is fair to expect a packed stadium with plenty of noise. It shapes up to be an unprecedented cracking encounter.
Morocco’s Journey To The Final
The Atlas Lionesses will be desperate to crown this campaign with the title on home soil, before their vociferous fans.
For much of it, though, they have been effective rather than effervescent- getting the desired result just as required.
A slim one-nil win against Burkina Faso in the opening game before defeating Uganda 3-1 ensured they sealed their place in the quarter final.
The final group stage match against Senegal posed much of an encounter. A Ghizlane Chebbak penalty proved just enough to win and top the group with maximum points.
Botswana fought bravely while being dark horses in the quarter final. In fact, they frustrated Reynalds Pedros’ women at times. But the North Africans had just enough to win 2-1 and qualify for the World Cup as a result.
The real contest was in the semifinal. Their resolve and quality would be tested by the most successful tournament on the continent. Indeed, that was the case. But two red cards to the opponent and a favourable penalty shootout guaranteed a first AWCON final.
South Africa’s Road To The Final
South Africa has deserved this stage. The Banyana Banyana have now made a second consecutive AWCON final. Everyone knows what they are about and it didn’t take long to show just that.
They were largely the better side in the opening match in the 2-1 win against Nigeria- more tactical and deliberate.
The 2018 finalists breezed past debutants Burundi 3-1 in the second match before sealing top position with a 1-0 win against Botswana.
With Thembi Kgatlana now injured and out of the tournament, scoring had become difficult. However, Jermaine Seoposenwe stepped up in the quarter-final to score the only goal against Tunisia.
The win against Zambia in the semi-final was rather controversial. Linda Motlhalo converted a last-gasp penalty to secure passage.
What To Expect
Morocco and South Africa have an opportunity to win a first AWCON title. Certainly, all will be left on the line for this encounter.
The hosts will count on home support to see them through. The fans were intimidating in the semi-final, they will have to replicate the atmosphere again.
Pedros will be worried at his team’s lack of precision in the final third as seen against Nigeria.
Of course, the play will remain the same: possession-based football with the aim to carve out spaces in the opponent’s defence. Chebbak and Salma Almani will play pivotal roles in this final.
South Africa, on the other hand, will look to build carefully, trying to avoid mistakes. Even then, an early goal will do plenty to silence the home crowd.
Seoposenwe will need to be at her absolute best to influence the outcome of this match. Ellis Desiree will be counting on the forward for this one.
This feels like a match where both teams will be wary of making mistakes and could end up recording very few goals.
Prediction: South Africa win