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Sundowns Ladies won’t return to South Africa the same...

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FOOTBALL SHOWDOWN

Sundowns Ladies hold their nerve to reach CAF Women’s Champions League final

Mamelodi Sundowns celebrate after beating Malabo Kings FC on penalties to reach the final during the 2021 TotalEnergies CAF Women's Champions League semifinal match between Mamelodi Sundowns and Malabo Kings at Al Salam Stadium, Egypt, Cairo, on 15 November 2021. (Photo: Weam Mostafa/BackpagePix)

Banyana Ba Style are through to the final and will clash with Ghana’s Hasaacas Ladies. The SA team hopes for a positive outcome against a tough opponent.

Following the conclusion of a tense penalty shootout which went to sudden death, Mamelodi Sundowns Ladies emerged 5-4 victors over Equatorial Guinea’s Malabo Kings and are through to the final of the inaugural CAF Women’s Champions League.

There they will face Ghana’s Hasaacas Ladies after they saw off Moroccans Asfar with a 2-1 win. Goals from Doris Boaduwaa and Evelyn Badu ensured the victory, while Najat Badri scored for the losing side.

In Sundowns’ clash with Malabo, despite the good displays of football in the build-ups by both sides, a goal just wouldn’t come — even after two hours of play.

It was then down to the lottery of penalties to ensure the two sides were separated.

From their six penalties, Masandawana scored five. The South Africans’ only missed spot-kick belonged to Chantelle Esau. Salome Nke and Florence Fanta missed their penalty kicks for Malabo.

The end of the contest left the Sundowns players overflowing with emotions as they broke down and cried, undoubtedly from relief after a gruelling encounter.

 

But it was also from the realisation that they now have a 5o% probability of winning this prestigious competition, a prospect which seemed like a distant dream a few years ago. As Banyana Ba Style’s Zanele Nhlapo recently pointed out.

“Every girl should keep on working hard because anything is possible in life. I never thought I’d end up here one day, but it’s possible. It happened for us, and it can happen for anyone,” Nhlapo said.

Although they haven’t been as lethal as they usually are upfront, with two goals from their four matches in the lead up to the final, Masandawana have been superior defensively and are yet to concede a goal in open play.

Their defensive resoluteness drew praise from the team’s head coach Jerry Tshabalala after their win over Malabo; though he also bemoaned his side’s rotten luck in front of goal so far.

“It wasn’t an easy game for us. It was tough but I’m still at a loss for the reason why whenever we play good football, we don’t score,” said Tshabalala. “I must applaud my defenders; we are here because of them. To keep this many clean sheets is because of them”.

Sundown’s sturdy defence is in for its sternest test yet when they clash with Hasaacas in the final on Friday, 19 November. The Ghanaians have been an attacking force with 10 strikes from their four matches in the competition. The closest challengers are Malabo, who have managed five.

In spite of the clear threat of Hasaacas, Tshabalala says his team is ready to blunt the sharpness of the West African side.   

“My team has shown that whenever we face a good side, we perform even better. So, I’m very excited for the final game. We are ready to take the title to South Africa,” Tshabalala shared.

Regardless of the result on Friday, Sundowns will return to South Africa a different team to the one that left. 

Over the last two weeks, the players have been challenged physically and mentally. They’ve been pushed to their limits and have had to dig deep — a challenge they hardly face in the domestic Hollywoodbets Super League.  

Their experiences in Egypt will prove invaluable in future, not only for Sundowns, but for Banyana Banyana as well.

Kick-off for the final is at 7pm South African time and it will be broadcast live on channel 209 on DStv. DM

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