Sundowns Ladies Reach Historic First-ever CAF Women’s Champions League Final

Mamelodi Sundowns Ladies have clinched a historic final place at the inaugural edition of the TotalEnergies CAF Women’s Champions League after registering a 5-4 penalty shootout victory against Equatorial Guinea’s Malabo Kings in the second semi-final clash at the El Salam Stadium in Cairo. Both teams could not find the back of the net after 120 minutes and spot-kicks were required to settle the contest. 

The Kings started the game on the front foot with so much determination but those early threats were neutralized by goalkeeper Andile Dlamini. The Brazilians responded almost immediately with a great opportunity of their own with Chuene Morifi delivering a sumptuous cross for Melinda Kgadiete whose header failed to hit the target.

That chance sparked life into Banyana Ba Style with Lelona Daweti and Rhoda Mulaudzi forming a telepathic combination in the middle of the park. A few minutes later, Mulaudzi embarked on a superb run on the right flank and her cut back was met by Morifi who forced a smart save from goalkeeper Ruth Sunday. The last real action of the first half belonged to the South Africans as Captain Zanele Nhlapho struck a long-range freekick which was tipped over the bar by the busy Malabo goalie. 

Coach Jerry Tshabalala’s charges began the second half dominantly with Morifi delivering a perfect cross for Daweti whose header blazed just wide off the post. The Brazilians then shook things up with Oratile Mokwena coming off for Thalea Smidt in a tactical shuffle. Midway through the second half, the Morifi- Daweti combination came alive again with Daweti smashing her header off the woodwork following another superlative cross from the highly-electric Morifi.

Despite the introduction of Andisiwe Mgcoyi and Bongiwe Thusi for Mulaudzi and Daweti respectively, Masandawana were unable to find the net as the game headed into extra time.

The early period of extra time saw Sundowns Ladies go on the attack with Kgadiete trying her effort from close range after another superb cut back from Morifi. Banyana Ba Style continued to apply the pressure in the second half of extra time with substitute Mgcoyi blazing her effort from 12 yards. Another substitute, Smidt, then saw her long-range effort cannon off the crossbar late on as the game headed to penalties.

In a dramatic shootout, Captain Nhlapho, Bambanani Mbane, Lerato Kgasago and Nhlanhla Mthandi all scored their respective spot-kicks while Chantelle Esau missed the opportunity to seal the deal as the penalty kicks headed to sudden death. Bongiwe slotted her effort confidently while Florence Fanta missed for the Kings to hand the victory to the Chloorkop side. 

Thanks to her overall agility and athleticism between the sticks, Andile was named ‘Woman of the Match’ an award she dedicated to the Yellow Nation.

“I am very excited to have been named as the winner of this award. I wish to thank everyone back home in South Africa for the support and warm wishes. This award is dedicated to the Yellow Nation. It was a very physical game and I am very excited that we grabbed our place in the final of this prestigious competition,” stated an excited Andile.

Speaking after the game, Coach Tshabalala was full of praise for his charges who left it all on the pitch.

“I must say I am feeling several shades of emotions right now ranging from nervousness to excitement. I am very delighted that we have booked our spot in the final. Today, we gave our best throughout the game. We showed our mettle as we created a couple of good chances. Although we could not convert those opportunities, I am very happy with the performance of my team. Defensively, we were top-notch yet again and that gives me joy. We are 90 minutes or so from making history and we are ready to leave it all again on the pitch on Friday,” stated the highly experienced tactician. 

Remarkably, The Brazilians remain the only team in Egypt yet to concede at the continent’s premier women’s tournament, an astonishing run that has spanned almost 390 minutes of football without shipping in any goal. 

The shootout victory means Sundowns Ladies will compete in the first-ever Women’s African Champions League final and will square off against Ghana’s Hasaacas Ladies in Friday’s historic final. The Ghanaians registered a 2-1 win against Morocco’s ASFAR in the first semi-final match of the day.

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