Morocco’s dream of turning into the primary Arab nation to win the Ladies’s Africa Cup of Nations ended on the ultimate hurdle on Saturday in Rabat with a 2-1 defeat towards South Africa, however the nation was happy with their achievements.
All of the objectives got here within the second half. Hildah Magaia opened the scoring for South Africa simply after the hour and the ahead prolonged Banyana Banyana’s lead 10 minutes later. The house workforce had 50,000 followers within the Prince Moulay Abdallah Stadium on their toes after 81 minutes as Rosella Ayane pulled a purpose again however the Atlas Lionesses have been unable to get the all-important second as South Africa gained their first continental title of their sixth ultimate look.
Regardless of the defeat, the event has been an enormous success on and off the pitch with Morocco by far the most effective performing Arab workforce within the competitors’s 14 editions and, extra importantly, securing qualification for the 2023 FIFA Ladies’s World Cup, which is one other first for the Arab world.
Morocco coach Reynald Pedros spoke for a lot of after the sport.
“They gave it their greatest nevertheless it was not sufficient,” mentioned the Frenchman. “I’m extraordinarily happy with my workforce. They’ve achieved a lot. They’ve honored the shirt and honored the supporters. We’ll cope with the defeat, however we aren’t disillusioned with our path within the championship.”
South Africa deserved the win and nearly took the lead early in what was a nervy first half from each groups with Moroccan defender Hanane Ait El-Haj clearing the ball off the road from Magaia in simply the fourth minute.
It was the closest both workforce was to return within the first half because the hosts have been pinned again and Moroccan goalkeeper Khadija Er-Rmichi needed to come off her line shortly to disclaim the busy Magaia seven minutes earlier than the break.
The impasse was lastly damaged simply after the hour. Jermaine Seoposenwe broke free down the left and pulled the ball again for Magaia and the South Korea-based star discovered the web with a low shot.
After 71 minutes South Africa doubled their lead. Morocco did not cope with Karabo Dhlamini’s cross from the left permitting Magaia to nip in and end from shut vary to essentially silence the house supporters.
But with 10 minutes remaining, the followers discovered their voices as soon as extra as Ayane pulled a purpose again. Fatima Tagnaout squared the ball from the left aspect of the realm for the Tottenham star to bury the ball within the backside nook.
It brought on the South Africans to retreat deeper and deeper however regardless of the strain and the 9 minutes of added time, Morocco have been unable to get the all-important equalizer towards the decided South African workforce.
“The gamers confirmed resilience,” mentioned South Africa coach Desiree Ellis. “They needed the trophy so badly. We performed nice soccer within the 2018 event however we didn’t come residence with the medal. I’d wish to take my hat off to all of the gamers.”
Regardless of the frustration for the hosts, the event nonetheless looks as if a turning level for girls’s soccer in Morocco.
“Morocco aren’t within the ultimate by likelihood,” mentioned Ellis. “They began their program some time in the past. They’ve a two-tier skilled league. They’ve a nationwide league for under-17s. They’ve introduced in a coach who gained league titles in France and the Champions League and have had plenty of friendlies towards high groups.”
Morocco thrilled the nation with their exploits, culminating in a dramatic semifinal victory towards Nigeria that put the workforce on the back and front pages for the primary time in historical past. This passionate soccer nation has embraced the Atlas Lionesses with the gamers now family names.
Captain Ghizlane Chebbak actually is. She was named because the event’s greatest participant.
“No-one believed in us at first of the competitors,” Chebbak mentioned. “However I’m proud that now we have been in a position to change the perceptions of individuals. All of the gamers are glad that girls’s soccer has attracted so many individuals and we’re comfortable that we’ve been in a position to attain out to followers who’ve seen us play and the hassle that we make on the sector.”
There may be nonetheless a lot extra worldwide motion for Morocco as the subsequent event is the actually huge one.
“Now it’s time to put together for the 2023 World Cup,” mentioned coach Pedros, who spoke to King Mohamed VI after the sport. “There weren’t any weak groups within the African Nations Cup, however the World Cup will likely be harder.”
A nation will likely be watching as soon as once more.