Who Are The Favorites To Win The CONCACAF Women's Championship?
Independent

Occasionally football provides an image so perfect it captures everything about a moment in a way words never could. Think Paul Gascoigne’s tears, Marco Tardelli’s scream or Diego Maradona surrounded by Belgium players.

It is time to add Rosella Ayane’s face to that list. The Tottenham Hotspur forward sent Morocco to their first Women’s Africa Cup of Nations final with a cool penalty under pressure. But whether she was aware of the extent of the pressure is difficult to say since she seemed genuinely shocked when she clocked the celebrations and realised the shootout had been won.

In front of a record crowd of over 45,500, Morocco played out a 1-1 draw with a Nigeria side reduced to nine women. The game was decided with a penalty shootout and Nigeria must have felt hanging on was the hard bit and they would surely make it count with a spot-kick triumph. The Moroccans, however, had other ideas.

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Having sent the Nigerian goalkeeper the wrong way with the final kick, Ayana turned round and walked casually back towards the centre circle in the mistaken belief the shootout was not over. Upon seeing the wild celebrations of those in the stands and her teammates running towards her, Ayana’s face told its own story as it registered shock followed almost immediately by delight.

In a sense, it shows the sheer focus of the Spurs ace. Ayana’s job would have been no different whatever the stage of the shootout, it was simply to put the ball in the back of the net. Clearly it’s essential to block out all other distractions, in this case that extended even to the state of play.

Morocco will now meet South Africa in the final on the weekend, having defeated the holders Nigeria. Hopefully someone will let Morocco’s heroine know that the winner of that one wins the whole tournament.

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