Few things in football are more beautiful than a lengthy narrative coming to a satisfying conclusion.
To say Ellis has had to wait for her moment of Wafcon glory would be an understatement. The Banyana Banyana coach had to experience defeat as both a player and a coach before she was finally able to lift the trophy.
It was a tactical and personnel management success for her, with Ellis ensuring that South Africa was able to fill Thembi Kgatlana’s offensive gap in the final third.
Sadly, famous strikers
Barbra Banda, Thembi Kgatlana, and Asisat Oshoala were the three players who dominated the previews leading up to the Wafcon and delighted fans the most.
All three were contenders for the Golden Shoe and Golden Boot awards—Kgatlana took home both prizes in 2018—but only one of them made it far into the competition.
Oshoala and Kgatlana were hurt during the group stages, and Banda was denied the chance to participate at all because her testosterone levels were higher than Caf’s “maximum.”
Of course, new heroes appeared, but without the elite starpower, the Wafcon wasn’t quite the same.
Morocco: Too Good
Possibly defeated finalists, and that defeat at home on Saturday night will hurt for a while.
When everything is said and done, the Atlas Lionesses will be able to reflect on a fantastic tournament performance on home ground.
They defeated Botswana and Nigeria in the knockout rounds, had a perfect record in the group stage, and remained in the game until the final whistle.
Morocco continued to show, on the field and off it, what thoughtful planning and investment can do for football at all levels during their tournament, which was a resounding success.
Nigeria nevertheless advanced to the World Cup semifinals, but this wasn’t good enough for a country that is used to winning the competition.
The Super Falcons, who have won all but two of the prior tournaments, are unbeatable, but they fell short here, losing to South Africa in the group stage before being defeated by Morocco on penalties in the semifinal.
This was Nigeria’s joint-worst performance at the Wafcon due to their playoff loss to Zambia.