On Saturday, 24th July 2022 South Africa made history by defeating the hard fighting Atlas Lionesses of Morocco 2-1 to lift the coveted trophy won nine times by the Super Falcons of Nigeria and for the Mandela babes it was their first ever victory.
They had endured hardship like good soldiers losing in previous four finals. In 2000 they lost to Nigeria 0-2; in 2008 got a slim defeat 1-2 to Equatorial Guinea; it was a disastrous loss to the same Guineans 0-4 in 2012 while in 2018 Nigeria claimed victory via the much questioned game of death – penalties after a goalless game.
This time, despite a highly vociferous crowd and the referee awarding a questionable 9 minutes for injury time, the ladies coached by 59 year old former captain of the team, Desiree Elis lifted the trophy and the former apartheid enclave went into a frenzy of jubilations thereafter. Pretty Desiree had on Thursday been named the African Best Coach of year 2022. No congratulations sha because she has not ‘washed’ it for we boys. Wash is a language used for celebrate.
The games were upgraded from usual 8 teams knocking themselves in two groups to 12 teams in three groups. Morocco making 3rd appearance; Uganda 2; Burundi 1; Zambia 4;Senegal 2; Togo 1; Tunisia 2; Burkina Faso 1; Cameroon 2; South Africa 13 and Nigeria 14.
Nigeria which had never lost out in any last four since 1998 were dethroned as African Queens to lose to Zambia which got the Bronze. I mentioned Otunba the other time, it is a title in Yoruba land of West Africa for the person who is next to the king. The Otunba takes charge of administrative procedure or acts in the demise of the king. The Otunbas of South Africa are kings for the next one year at least as the team upset hosts Morocco to be champions.
Some awards were announced after the final match. Azeezat Oshoala who is second highest goal scorer ever with six goals (in 2016) after her fellow Nigerian, Perpetua Nkwocha eleven goals in 2010 and was crowned the African best female footballer of 2022 also on Thursday, was missing as three girls were top scorers with three goals each namely Rasheedat Ajibade of Nigeria; Ghizlane Chebbak of Morocco and Hilda Maigala who joined them after scoring a brace at the finals. A brace is two goals scored in a single match.
I have to say thank you to Funke Atohengbe of Voice of Nigeria who corrected me that the male South African team is called Bayana Bayana and the female is Banyana Banyana. Did you notice the difference? Their goaltender, Andile Diamini got the Golden gloves. She had three clean slates in six matches (meaning she did not concede any goal in three matches); only three goals went past her in the entire tournament. Our Chiamaka in goal for Nigeria conceded five goals with three clean slates too.
South Africa was the team of the tournament. Chebbak of Morocco was player of the tournament.
A total 62 goals were scored in the tournament; 48 were scored at group stages. Group A comprising Morocco, Senegal, Burkina Faso and Uganda scored the least -13. Group B comprising Zambia, Cameroon, Tunisia and Togo scored 15 while group C comprising South Africa, Nigeria, Botswana and Burundi scored 20. A total 7 goals were scored in the quarterfinals which had four games. Three were scored in the two semifinals while four were scored in the losers and final matches.
The three topmost scoring countries were South Africa with 10 goals conceding 3; Nigeria with 9 goals conceding 4 and Morocco with 9 goals conceding 5. Burundi conceded 11 goals scoring only 3. (Burkina Faso only scored twice.) Debutante Togo conceded 9 goals and scored 3 while Botswana another debutante conceded 8 goals scoring 5 while Uganda conceded 7 goals and scored 3.
Before I write about the bad girls of the tournament, there was a force majeure, something beyond us when the ref of the match between Cameroon and Zambia played at the Stade Mohammed V, Casablnca on July 3, Aissata Boudy Lam of Mauritania was injured at the 64th minute and replaced by the 1980 born Ethiopian 4th ref Lidya Tafessie.
There were six girls who saw red at the tournament, not their menstruations but they were red carded. Two of such went to indefatigable Rasheedat Ajibade and Halimat Ayinde in one match; others are Uganda in 2nd match; Zambia and Togo in their first matches and Botswana in their 2nd match.
A total of 146 yellow cards were flashed. Teams in group A had total 46; Group B total 60 and group C total 42. All the groups recorded 62 yellow and 3 red cards at the group stages.
Togo and Botswana shared the highest yellow cards of 20 each. Next was the very physical Cameroon with 17. Morocco and Senegal bagged 15yellows each. Burkina Faso, Tunisia and Burundi had 10 each while Nigeria had 8.
Among the four basic qualifiers for the world cup proper in Australia andNew Zealand are Morocco and Zambia making first Appearances and South Africa whose only appearance was in 2019. Nigeria is a regular face at the Mundial being there 9 times now – in 1991, 1995, 1999, 2003, 2007, 2011, 2015 and 2019. No African nation has won the world cup.
Nigeria won the African title in 1991; 1995; 1998; 2000; 2002; 2004; 2006; 2010; 2014; 2016 and 2018. They were Runners-up 2008and 4th in 2012. Equatorial Guinea won in 2008 and 2012 before CAF sent them to the cleaners – a ban.
The final rating at the Morocco tournament is as follows:
P W D L GF GA GD PTS
1 SA 6 6 0 0 10 3 +7 18
2 Ma 6 4 1 1 9 5 +4 13
3 Za 6 3 2 1 7 3 +4 11
4 Ng 6 3 1 2 9 4 +5 10
5 Se 5 2 2 1 4 2 +2 8
6 Ca 5 2 2 1 4 2 +2 8
7 Tu 5 1 1 3 4 5 -1 4
8 Bo 5 1 1 4 5 8 -3 3
9 BF 3 0 1 2 2 4 -2 1
10 Ug 3 0 1 2 3 7 -4 1
11 To 3 0 1 2 3 9 -6 1
12 Bu 3 0 0 3 3 11 -8 0
All the teams have gone back to the drawing board for the next championship. Senegal and Cameroon won slots in the African play offs and will join some other teams from across the world to battle for free slots at the finals.
This article was written by Eniola Olatunji (Rev.), a cleric, Journalist of 45 years standing and CEO Patmos Media Line an Online.