African champions Sundowns Ladies ready for stampeding Buffaloes in bid to retain Cosafa title
Defending champions Mamelodi Sundowns of South Africa will face Green Buffaloes from Zambia in the decider of the 2022 CAF Women’s Champions League Southern Africa qualifier on Saturday.
They may be the reigning African champions but Mamelodi Sundowns Ladies have not had it all their way in the second edition of the southern region’s qualifiers for the CAF Women’s Champions League.
Following an emphatic 8-1 win in their opening game of the ongoing Council of Southern Africa Football Associations (Cosafa) mini-tournament (which they won in 2021), Sundowns were unable to be as ruthless against Botswana’s Double Action Ladies – being held to a one-all draw.
Ther result caught Banyana Ba Style by surprise. They are used to running riot against opposition, or grinding out a positive result even on a rare off day. However, Double Action, who the South Africans thumped 6-0 in last year’s edition, demonstrated massive improvement to hold the Tshwane side in Durban.
“We faced a very organised side who showed they have learnt their lessons from last year’s competition. Although we played our best, we ended up with a result that we least expected,” was Sundowns assistant coach Agnes Nkosi’s assessment.
“Despite the result, we remain a force to be reckoned with and we will dust ourselves off from this and plan for the next game.”
In spite of that result, the reigning African champions still finished top of their group with four points from their two games, thanks to second-placed Double Action’s inferior goal difference.
Now Masandawana must attempt to stop the stomping and stampeding Green Buffaloes in the tournament final in Durban. The Zambian side collected maximum points from their two group games, scoring eight goals and conceding none on the way to comfortably topping Group B.
Read in Daily Maverick: “Sundowns Ladies kick-start Champions League defence in Durban”
For their troubles they now have a final date with the continental champions. Sundowns’ usually solid and assured defensive line will have its hands full with the focal point of the Buffaloes pack, Ireen Lungu, who tops the scoring charts, having netted five times so far.
“She is a girl who you don’t have to coach a lot, she is intelligent and knows what to do with the ball. She is a very sharp player. I think we are lucky to have her,” said Buffaloes coach Charles Haalubono of the impressive Lungu.
“She is also a utility player, you can play her even on the wings and on top, she is a key player for us,” he added.
Both sides have qualified for the second edition of Champions League set for Morocco later this year, this by virtue of reaching the final. Nevertheless, each will be out to claim the ultimate bragging rights of being the best club in southern Africa for 2022 come the final whistle.
The final will kick off at 3.30pm on Saturday, 13 August, after the bronze-medal match between Double Action vs Olympique de Moroni, of Comoros. That clash is scheduled for noon.
Once again, fans will be able to enter the Sugar Ray Xulu Stadium in Clermont for free. Complimentary tickets will be available at the venue from three hours before kick-off. DM