Striker Desire Oparanozie scored the only goal of the match on 54 minutes to ensure a repeat of the 2014 final in Windhoek, Namibia, which Nigeria won 2-0 for their seventh title.
It was a game that the South Africans dominated but failed to convert the numerous chances that came their way. For the first time, the Nigerians found themselves on the wrong footing as they were pinned for most part of the game into their own half by a determined South African side that controlled the midfield.
In the end, it was Nigeria who prevailed scoring from basically the best moment from a free-kick early into the second half. It was a repeat of the meeting between the two sides two years later in Namibia when Nigeria beat South Africa 2-1 at the same stage of the competition.
Banyana Banyana were in control for the opening quarter-hour mark with Silindile Ngubane and Andiswe Mgcoyi giving the Nigerian rear of Onome Ebi and Osinachi Ohale some sleepless night.
Nigeria’s Ngozi Okobi got the first chance at goal with a curling shot on 16 minutes following a one-two with Asisat Oshoala. Nine minutes later, it was Okobi again but South African goalie Andile Dlamini weathered the storm with a calm save.
The South Africans remained in control till the early minutes of the second half when Faith Ikidi run lose only to be fouled by Bambanani Mbane at the edge of the penalty area. Oparanozie elected herself for the free-kick and shot past the wall into the post for what turned out to be the only goal of the match.
Banyana Banyana coach Desiree Ellis brought on nimble footed Thembi Kgatlana for Ngubane and the former’s pace added to the misery of the Nigerian backline.
The South Africans best chance at levelling came on 85 minutes but Mbane’s shot from a corner was cleared on the line by Ikidi.
The disappointed Banyana Banyana will have to settle for bronze with Ghana in the third place match on Friday in Yaounde whilst Nigeria battles host Cameroon for the ultimate 24-hours later at the same venue.