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Magaia feels missing Wafcon games was part of God's plan

Two-goal hero in final a hit with fans and family

Amanda Maliba Entertainment reporter
Hidah Magaia said scoring the goals was super emotional for her.
Hidah Magaia said scoring the goals was super emotional for her.
Image: Veli Nhlapo

Hildah Magaia, who suffered an injury in Banyana Banyana's first game at the Women's Africa Cup of Nations (Wafcon) in Morocco before returning to the starting line-up in the final to score a brace, believes it was God's plan for her to miss some games in the tournament.

Magaia said it was hard for her when she was sidelined after the first game against Nigeria. She missed out on the next three games and only played for 45 minutes in the semifinal and the final against hosts Morocco on Saturday. She scored the goals that helped SA clinch the cup for the first time after six previous attempts in the finals of the competition. 

“It was extremely emotional because when one goes to a tournament you go with the aim of playing. As much as injuries are part and parcel of the game, you just don’t get used to them.

“I believe that God was keeping me so that in the end I got to score the two winning goals. It was super emotional for me, I couldn’t believe it,” she said. 

The 27-year-old from Dennilton in Limpopo was the obvious fan favourite when the team landed at OR Tambo International Airport yesterday to a warm welcome from hundreds of fans who filled the arrivals area.

The easygoing Magaia was seen mingling with supporters, taking selfies and signing T-shirts during the festivities, which were attended by government officials and sports administrators.

Her mother Christina Mnguni was dancing with the crowds. She said she was extremely proud of her daughter. 

“I made sure to watch most of the games. When she scored the two winning goals I was expecting it because of how talented she is. The entire family is proud of our girl. She has brought honour to our family,” sad the excited mother.

Banyana Banyana defender Janine van Wyk said to be part of this moment in history is an honour, given the many occasions the squad fell short in the final.  

“Coming here and seeing so many people supporting women's football and Banyana Banyana is incredibly humbling.

“I am grateful that I am still here as part of the team to see the change in women's football in our country. Banyana Banyana should not be in the shadows any longer. This is a dream come true for me,” she said. 

Addressing the crowd, coach Desiree Ellis said during the tournament they faced a couple of challenges, including losing one of their star players, Thembi Kgatlana to injury and facing a couple of Covid cases. But they held their heads high.

“You know this team is incredible, these players are amazing. Before we even left for the tournament we had a meeting and I asked them what their ambitions were. Jermaine Seoposenwe said ‘we want to win Afcon'. I said to her ‘firstly cup qualification’. She said ‘no, if we win Afcon, we qualify for the World Cup, period'."

For the record, SA qualified for the 2023 World Cup by reaching the semifinals in Morocco. 

SA Football Association president Dr Danny Jordaan voiced his determination to see the changing of fortunes for women's football in SA. 

“We made the commitment that we will reward those who worked hard and achieved on the behalf of the nation. 

“We also recognise that in the midst of all of the joy, inequality between men and women in sports in general, globally, is a matter that must be addressed. This tournament indicates the disparity between men and women, and the indication of the domination of men in world sports," Jordaan said.

“The second issue is in prize money. This is a problem that goes back to the commercial environment around women's sport. These are the issues that we have to address.” 

malibaa@sowetan.co.za

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