Mamelodi Sundowns Ladies got their CAF Women’s Champions League campaign off to a winning start when they secured a 2-0 win over Jeshi la Kujenga Taifa Queens in their first group stage match at the Stade Amadou Gon Coulibaly in Korhogo, in the Ivory Coast, on Sunday night, 5 November, 2023.
In a game that was billed a David and Goliath clash ahead proceedings, Sundowns Ladies new they had their work cut out in taking on their JKT Queens for the first time.
“This tournament means a lot to us and we have been winners in the past, so we know what it means to be victorious. The expectations among us are high because we lost last year’s final and we are determined to exceed last year’s performance. Mentally, we are ready for the competition and as a collective, we are ready to excel.”Sundowns Ladies Captain Zanele Nhlapho
But given the South African teams pedigree, they were favourites heading in to the title, having won the inaugural competition in 2021 and finishing as runners up in the previous season.
Their Tanzanian opponents applied some early pressure but Sundowns Ladies were in good hands as Banyana Banyana goalkeeper Andile Dlamini made sure she kept a clean sheet for her team.
It was a another Banyana player who got the visitors into the lead, when Lebogang Ramalepe scored late in the first half, to give her team a slender advantage going into the break.
Both teams had their face share of chances in the second period as Ramalepe could have scored her second, while the home team had more attempts saved by Dlamini. But thanks to Refilwe Tholakele, Sundowns Ladies sealed an important win as they look to cement their place in the competitions history books.
Ramalepe was also awarded for her great performance when she was chosen as the Player of the Match.
The Brazilians entered the continent’s premier tournament as COSAFA qualifiers champions, thanks to their masterful performance that saw them score 21 goals and concede just one en route to their second regional title in three years.
Prior to the game the team was vocal as to how they feel they about having another successful tournament on the continent.
Nhlapho highlighted how the CAF Women’s Champions League has improved the quality of the women’s game on the continent: “The exposure and opportunities provided by this tournament have allowed many talented players to showcase their skills on a continental and even global stage.
“It is not only about winning titles but also about inspiring the next generation of female footballers and creating a pathway for them to pursue professional careers in the sport. The influx of new teams has also contributed to the growth and competitiveness of women’s football on the continent,” Nhlapho told the Sundowns website.
It’s will be a quick turnaround for Sundowns Ladies, as they will host Sporting Club de Casablanca on Wednesday in their second group match. That match will kickoff at 10pm.
Photo Caption: Player of the Match Lebogang Ramalepe smiles after Banyana Ba Style got their CAF Women’s Champions League campaign off to a winning start when they secured a 2-0 win over Jeshi la Kujenga Taifa Queens in their first group stage match at the Stade Amadou Gon Coulibaly in Korhogo, in the Ivory Coast, on Sunday night, 5 November, 2023. Photo: Sundowns Ladies on X