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WAFCON 2022: SA crowned champions, record attendance; here are 5 tournament highlights

WAFCON 2022:  SA crowned champions, record attendance; here are 5 tournament highlights
South Africa players celebrate after defeating Morocco in the final of the women's African Cup of Nations (WAFCON) soccer tournament in Rabat, Morocco, Saturday, July 23, 2022   -  
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The 14th edition of the Africa Women Cup of Nations, which is organized by the Confederation of African Football (CAF) for the women’s national teams of Africa ended on July 23, with the Banyana Banyana from South Africa, crowned new queens. Zambia beat Nigeria to bring a bronze medal home. At the end of three weeks of tournament, here are 5 highlights of this year's edition.

Record attendance

Football is a passion shared by millions on the continent. Women football is progressively gaining traction in Africa. The semi-final Nigeria-Morocco, played at the Complexe Sportif Prince Moulay-Abdellah in Rabat delivered a record-breaking attendance of 45,562. On Saturday, the final Morocco-South Africa bettered this stat. With around 50,000 fans in the terraces, this is the new most attended WAFCON fixture.

First Arab nation to reach final stage

When the tournament kicked off on July 3, few people would have bet the Atlas Lionesses would go this far. If they lost (1-2) the final against South Africa on Saturday, the female Moroccan team definitely wrote a page in the history of African football. The Kingdom was the first North African country to host the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations in the 24-year history of the continental competition. And it became the first Arab nation to play a WAFCON final. Moroccan captain Ghizlane Chebbak was named 'Player of the Tournament'.

Banyana Banyana finally bring the cup home

After earning silver medals in 2000, 2008, 2012, 2018... 2022 finally won gold. South AFrica lifted Saturday its very first Africa Cup of Nations cup. Striker Hildah Magaia scored twice to lead her country to victory 2-1 against Morocco. 

The Banyana Banyana were named the National Team of the Year, and were also given the 'Fair Play Team' title.

Beautiful goals

What would a football tournament be without spectacle and top-notch performances? The list of beautiful goals is long. However, here are some worth the detour. A magnificent free kick converted by Moroccan captain Ghizlane Chebbak against Burkina Faso. Cameroon's Ajara Nchout goal against Botwana, Nigeria's plunging header by Rasheedat Ajibade, or Sumayah Komuntale's goal against Morocco.

Female coaches

South Africa's coach Desiree Ellis was named Coach of the Year at the 2022 CAF Awards. Her journey of 29 years eventually paid off. If only one coach gets to head back home with the gold medal, this edition of the WAFCON was a source of hope for female African coaches. For the first time in the history of the tournament, three female coaches were present at the tournament. Including Gaoletlhoo Nkutlwisang of Botswana, Kai Tomety from Togo and South Africa’s Ellis.

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