South Africa reach quarter-finals of Africa Women’s Cup of Nations as Nigeria claim maiden victory

South Africa became the third team to qualify for the quarter-finals of the Africa Women’s Cup of Nations (AWCON) in Rabat on Thursday with a 3-1 victory over Burundi, while Nigeria beat the Botswana 2-0 for their first victory.

South Africa cemented their position at the top of Group C with a sloppy but comfortable victory.

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They got off to a good start when, in the 20th minute, Thembi Kgatlana received the ball from Refiloe Jane, played a back-and-forth from Noxolo Cesane, then stroked the ball into the net effortlessly to put Banyana in front.

However, South Africa were silenced half an hour into the match as Asha Djafari beat Noko Matlou on the outside and put Aniella Uwimana in the net.

Two minutes later Robyn Moodaly had the ball taken away in the box but it was not cleared properly and Amogelang Motau was able to recover the loose ball and restore Banyana’s lead.

South Africa wasted many chances in the first half that should have seen them put the game to bed. Notably, Kgatlana missed a gaping net after rounding goalkeeper Janine Irakoze, while Jermaine Seoposenwe saw a penalty saved.

In the 53rd minute, Irakoze knocked down a cross and then fouled Kgatlana in the box. Linda Motlhalo stepped up and rolled the ball into the bottom corner to score what turned out to be the game’s final goal.

In Thursday’s other match, Nigeria redeemed themselves after losing 2-1 to South Africa in their opener despite the announcement of Asisat Oshoala’s absence due to a injury for the remainder of the tournament.

In the absence of their star striker, Gotham FC’s Ifeoma Onumonu stepped in. She got behind the defence, grabbed the ball deep from Halimatu Ayinde and stabbed in the 22nd minute.

Christy Ucheibe headed in the Super Falcons’ second goal in the 48th minute, taking advantage of Toni Payne’s assist. From there it was a smooth cruise to victory.

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