Brazilians Take One Giant Step Closer to the League Title

Mamelodi Sundowns Ladies continued their giant strides towards retaining their Hollywoodbets Super League title thanks to a 2-0 victory over Coal City Wizards at the Groenkloof Stadium on Saturday afternoon. Second-half goals from Lerato Kgasago and Lelona Daweti ensured The Brazilians wrapped up the victory, leaving the team in a confident mood as they switch their attention to the inaugural edition of the TotalEnergies CAF Women’s Champions League.

Coach Jerry Tshabalala expressed his desire to give his youngsters an opportunity during his pre-match interview and the highly experienced tactician stuck to his words. The 15-year old trio of Lumka Qhekeka, Sphesihle Magazi and Sinenhlanhla Nkosi all made the starting line-up as Coach Tshabalala fielded a relatively young team. The tactical shuffle also provided Coach Tshabalala an opportunity to tinker with his team and work out several approaches as his side gears up for the maiden edition of the continental showpiece.

Both teams began the game like a house on fire with several early chances created. With just five minutes gone on the clock, both defence lines had been sliced through and both goalkeepers got a feel of the ball which served as a preview for what was to come. A minute later, Khutso Pila delivered a well-floated aerial through pass to Daweti who struggled to get a clean connection with the ball.

Banyana Ba Style continued to dominate the middle of the park with some neat exchanges as Lumka and Nonhlanhla Mthandi showed very good understanding in troubling the Wizards midfield block. Despite the high-octane nature of the first half-hour, the highly-talented young debutantes – Sphesihle and Sinenhlanhla were not fazed as they showed assuredness, fearlessness, great vision and purposefulness as they kept possession even in the tightest situations.

The Mpumalanga-based side also fashioned out some opportunities before the stroke of halftime but their efforts were thwarted by the in-form Sundowns goalkeeper Asa Rabalao. 

The Brazilians returned in the second half with renewed vigour and were keen to break the deadlock as quickly as possible. That quest was boosted with Coach Tshabalala looking to bench for more firepower. The first batch of substitutions saw Lumka replaced by Boitumelo Rabale while Magazi was replaced by the golden-boot chasing Andisiwe Mgcoyi. Those substitutions duly sparked life into the veins of the Sundown’s forward line.

Nevertheless, CCW continued to weather the storms and almost grabbed the lead but was denied by the ever-present Rabalao who conjured up some spectacular saves to the frustration of the visitors. A few minutes later, Sundowns made another tactical change with Chantelle Esau replacing Nkosi while Lerato Kgasago also joined the fray.

Those changes yielded dividends a few minutes later as substitute Lerato delivered a goal-of-the-season contender thanks to a long-range effort from the middle of the park. The audacious strike sent the Sundowns players and even the technical bench into raptures. 

With time running out, the reigning champions pushed forward to grab the all-important next goal and were duly rewarded with Daweti making sure of the points. The win meant the Brazilians are now just one point away from retaining the Hollywoodbets Super League.

Speaking after the game, Coach Tshabalala was full of praise for his youngsters who duly impressed in the hard-fought victory.

“It was a very interesting game. As you know, we are preparing for Egypt and I had to bring in my 15-year-olds. In fact, three of them started today. We fielded a very young side with almost 80 percent of the squad under the age of 23 bar two or three players. Remember we are building a team that is capable of dominating in the future. I am so happy that we were able to give the youngsters some valuable playing time which will go a long way in building their confidence,” said Coach Tshabalala.

Meanwhile, the latest clean sheet registered by Rabalao means the in-form goalkeeper has now conceded just four goals after playing 12 matches this campaign. With Andile Dlamini also making a return to full training, the Sundowns Ladies’ goalkeeping ranks have been fully boosted ahead of the CAF Women’s Champions League.

Thus far, Masandawana has won a league-high 20 games out of 22 played with one drawn and one defeat by virtue of a ruling. The Chloorkop side has also scored 72 goals and has conceded 11 times while also boasting a mammoth goal difference of +61.

With the league title almost secured, Banyana Ba Style now switches their attention to the CAF Women’s Champions League which begins on the 5th of November, 2021.