Sundowns Ladies ready to trump home favourites ASFAR in Champions League final

Sundowns Ladies ready to trump home favourites ASFAR in Champions League final
Nonhlanhla Mthandi of Mamelodi Sundowns during their CAF Women's Champions League match against Simba Queens at Prince Moulay El Hassan Stadium in Rabat, Morocco, on 9 November 2022. (Photo: ©Weam Mostafa / BackpagePix)

Defending African champions Mamelodi Sundowns Ladies are all set to clash with Morocco’s ASFAR in the Caf Women’s Champions League final after both sides secured slim 1-o wins in their semifinal matches.

‘This is one of the toughest games we have played in the Caf Women’s Champions League tournament. Both teams were gunning for the final and we had to dig deep to maintain our incredible record at the competition. There is no time to relax because we have a final to prepare for.”

So said Mamelodi Sundowns heroine Boitumelo Rabale after their 1-0 semifinal success versus Tanzania’s Simba Queens

Indeed, after effortlessly breezing through the group stage, Masandawana encountered a stubborn and determined Simba side, which would have rattled their net numerous times were it not for some sensational saves by Banyana Banyana goalkeeper Andile Dlamini.

It took a magical moment from Lesotho international Rabale for the defending African champions to finally breach the Simba defence, in the 75th minute. After some great build-up from the back, Sundowns striker Melinda Kgadiete linked up with Rabale, who unleashed a precise first-time curler past the rooted Simba goalkeeper.

Mamelodi Sundowns players celebrate victory over Simba Queens. (Photo: ©Weam Mostafa / BackpagePix)

“Simba pushed us to the limits. At some point I felt like we were going to extra time and I had to be careful with changes to make because of that… That goal is one of the best well-crafted goals we’ve ever scored – that’s the identity of Mamelodi Sundowns,” shared Sundowns coach Jerry Tshabalala.

With this narrow win Sundowns extended their unbeaten run at the continent’s premier women’s tournament to nine games, with seven victories and two draws. Masandawana have also scored 12 goals in Morocco, the most by a club in a campaign since the tournament’s inception in 2021.

Hosts chase glory

The marvellous Rabale winner ensured Banyana Ba Style sealed a date with hosts ASFAR. The Moroccans edged out Nigeria’s Bayelsa Queens by a solitary strike to reach the final on home soil.

Fuelled by home-ground advantage and passionate local support, the North African side will head into the final encounter of the tournament feeling confident of pulling one over the South African side when it matters the most. Though by sheer experience and strength in quality, Masandawana remain favourites.

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Nevertheless, the host club is determined to climb all the way to the pinnacle of African glory – on home soil. They will have taken notes from Simba after how the Tanzanians frustrated the reigning African champions.

“Our goal was to qualify for the final, which we have achieved. We are happy and motivated to win this title in Morocco,” said ASFAR forward Ibtissam Jraïdi.

As for Rabale – who, alongside the on-form Lona Daweti has spearheaded Sundowns’ charge to successfully retain their crown as the queens of Africa – she wishes to see the title return to South Africa for another season.

Read in Daily Maverick: “Time is now for SA women’s soccer – league should be professional, with proper financial backing and pay for players

With three goals to her name and two player-of-the-match accolades in the tournament, the Lesotho women’s team captain underlined the fighting spirit of her teammates after their latest triumph.

“I want to highlight the mental strength of our team. We had some difficulties, it was not an easy match [against Simba],” she said.   

Pambani Kuzoya of Simba Queens challenges Chuene Precious Morifi of Mamelodi Sundowns. (Photo: ©Weam Mostafa / BackpagePix)

“But we all throw ourselves in as individuals in order to defend our titles. We have done a good job so far as a team. I just want us to win this title and bring the trophy back home.”

She will hope for the same in the final on Sunday, 13 November, at 8pm. It will be broadcast on SuperSport and the SABC. DM



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