The CAF Women’s Champions League is scheduled to commence this coming Sunday, November 5th, with Mamelodi Sundowns Ladies competing in the continent’s premier tournament against seven other clubs from across the continent.
Banyana Ba Style are pitted in Group A alongside the hosts and tournament debutants, Athlético Abidjan, Moroccan side Sporting Club Casablanca and Tanzania’s JKT Queens. Group B features Morocco’s AS FAR, Ghana’s Ampem Darkoa, Equatorial Guinea’s Huracanes, and Mali’s AS Mandé.
Coach Jerry Tshabalala believes that the intensity of this season’s Hollywoodbets Super League has helped put his squad in the best possible shape ahead of the tournament in Cote d’Ivoire.
“The league has always been competitive and we have benefited from the intensity in the league in the past. Our victories in the CAF Women’s Champions League in 2021 and the multiple COSAFA qualifiers titles are a testament to this. This year, we had a couple of additions to our squad and they needed some time to gel with the team. Thankfully, they have clicked at the right time. So, we always appreciate the competitiveness of the Hollywoodbets Super League,” Coach Jerry stated.
When asked about his fondest memories of the last two editions of the continent’s premier tournament, the Sundowns gaffer stated, “Playing against different teams in the past editions has been an exciting learning experience as we get to learn about the game from different styles in terms of tactics. AS FAR has proven to be very sound tactically, while teams from West Africa have been very physical. So, the experience of playing against these various styles has been an incredible journey. As a coach, I have learned so much about the game by participating in the CAF Champions League in the past two years.”
The Brazilians head to Cote d’Ivoire with redemption on their minds after losing last year’s final. Coach Jerry insists that the mindset the team used to reclaim the COSAFA title will be the same mindset employed on the biggest stage of them all.
“At COSAFA, we learned so many lessons. I remember we were a goal down in the first 10 minutes against Green Buffaloes, who had beaten us the year before. I remember how the girls fought back to beat them 3-1. It was a real test of our character and it taught us that it is not over until it is over. COSAFA taught us that we have to give our all, whether we are a player down or a goal down. So, the team is highly motivated ahead of the tournament. We are fortunate to find ourselves in a position to fight again for the biggest title in African women’s club football,” Coach Jerry added.
From a tactical perspective, Coach Tshabalala is expecting several intriguing battles at the tournament.
“I anticipate a lot of tactical duels as we have two teams from Morocco and several new teams who will be aiming to stamp their authority on the biggest stage in the CAF competition. We also expect very physical teams and we know that there will be teams who will embark on games with the intention of not losing. So, we expect a clash of styles and philosophies and I am looking to learn a lot more about the game and the styles of other coaches,” Coach Jerry concluded.
Sundowns Ladies will kick off their campaign against Tanzania’s JKT Queens on November 5th. They will then face Morocco’s Sporting Club Casablanca in their second game, followed by a match against Athlético Abidjan in their final group game.