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SA goalkeeper Andile Dlamini celebrates victory after the 2022 Women's Africa Cup of Nations semifinal win against Zambia at Stade Mohammed V in Casablanca, Morocco on July 18. Picture: WEAM MOSTAFA/BACKPAGE PIX
SA goalkeeper Andile Dlamini celebrates victory after the 2022 Women's Africa Cup of Nations semifinal win against Zambia at Stade Mohammed V in Casablanca, Morocco on July 18. Picture: WEAM MOSTAFA/BACKPAGE PIX

Banyana Banyana know they are playing for a country in need of a pick-me-up, goalkeeper Andile Dlamini has said.

Dlamini, one of the stars of the national team that has won five games in a row to reach the 2022 Women’s Africa Cup of Nations final in Morocco, said beating Zambia 1-0 in Monday’s semifinal on Nelson Mandela International Day was special for Banyana.

SA meet the hosts in Saturday night’s final at Stade Prince Moulay Abdellah in Rabat (10pm SA time).

“Our country needs this. Everyone needs to be motivated in our country,” Mamelodi Sundowns goalkeeper Dlamini told the SA Football Journalists Association.

“Nelson Mandela once said it — sport unites. And I’m thankful that we are going to the final.

“I’m grateful that we were in the right position at the right time for the referee to make that call and VAR to make that call [a penalty awarded to SA]. What I can take from this is we are united, we are a team.

“And whether the weather goes this way or that we are united and as a leader I will keep on encouraging my teammates. I’m there for them. It’s not easy.”

SA’s entry to the final was not without controversy.

The Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) has lodged an official complaint with the Confederation of African Football regarding the officiating in Zambia’s 1-0 defeat.

FAZ has contested the penalty awarded in injury time, by Ethiopian referee Lidya Tafesse Abebe, from which Linda Motlhalo scored the 93rd-minute winner in Casablanca.

Motlhalo admitted there was an element of fortune to Banyana’s win in the semifinal.

“Performance-wise we could have done better but this is a tournament — sometimes games are going to be good and sometimes they’ll be bad, and we take what we can get. We got a win and that’s what we’re going to take.

“And with the penalty, you need luck sometimes and I guess that was luck, and experience [too] in a way.”

Morocco beat 11-time champions Nigeria on penalties in their semifinal.

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