Pretoria — Banyana Banyana were beaten 4-nil by the host Equatorial Guinea in the final of the CAF African Women Championship played in Malabo on Sunday.
Banyana travelled to Malabo New Stadium in high spirits having outplayed Africa's number one side Nigeria 1-nil in Bata on the mainland on Wednesday, but came unstuck against a determined home side.
The hosts went into the break with a 1-nil lead after Gloria Chinasa took advantage of some poor defensive work to head home from a corner kick in the 43rd minute.
Playing in front of 20 000 passionate home fans, Equatorial Guinea doubled their lead in the 66th minute when second half substitute Tiga Costa scored with her first touch of the ball.
The home side was 3-nil up four minutes later, when midfielder and skipper Genoveva Anonman made the South Africans pay for some sloppy defending.
In the 72nd minute, Chinasa scored her second goal of the title-deciding match, after a fine run on the left before scoring from a tight angle past an outstretched Banyana goalkeeper Thoko Mndaweni.
Only Banyana captain and midfielder Amanda Dlamini looked the part on the biggest football stage in African women's football, with a solid display in her efforts to launch attacks on the home team's goal area.
While disappointed with the result, the outcome marks the end of a hectic 2012 campaign for the national side, which saw them in camp early in January in preparation for the London Olympics held in July.
The South African team will also be patiently waiting on the latest FIFA and African points rankings to be made public, having travelled to Malabo ranked 56th in the world (up from 61st in July) and 4th in Africa (behind Nigeria, Equatorial Guinea and All-Africa Games champions Cameroon).
In the playoff for third and fourth places, Cameroon outplayed Nigeria 1-0.
Speaking after the match, Banyana head coach Joseph Mkhonza said: "Falling at the final hurdle is a major disappointment to all involved with Banyana, particularly after the fine effort put in to record our national team's first ever win over Nigeria in the semi-finals last week."
Banyana will touch down at O.R Tambo International Airport (international arrivals) at 9:50am on Tuesday, 13 November.