All eyes will be on the Stade Amadou Gon Coulibaly in Korhogo, the venue of the CAF Women’s Champions League Final, as Mamelodi Sundowns Ladies face Sporting Club Casablanca in a highly anticipated clash on Sunday.
Both teams met in the second Group A match, with Banyana Ba Style winning 1-0 thanks to a fantastic header from Melinda Kgadiete.
Road to the Final
The Brazilians breezed through the group stages with a 100% record and a perfect clean-sheet run. They beat Tanzania’s JKT Queens 2-0 in their opening fixture, secured a 1-0 win against Sunday’s finalists and enjoyed a dominant 3-0 victory over the host team, Athletico Abidjan, in their final group game. Banyana Ba Style then reached their third successive final, thanks to a 1-0 win over Morocco’s AS FAR.
Sporting Casablanca, on the other hand, began the tournament with a 1-1 draw against Athletico Abidjan before losing 1-0 to Masandawana in their second game. The Moroccans then beat JKT Queens in their third and final fixture. In the semifinal, the North African side prevailed over Ghana’s Ampem Darkoa 3-2 on penalties after both teams had played a 2-2 draw in 120 minutes of playing time.
Thoughts of the Players
Ahead of the final, Nonhlanhla Mthandi believes the mood in the camp is super high, especially after the victory against AS FAR.
“The spirit within the team is very high and the semifinal win further boosted our determination. The game was not easy, but we found a way to get the result we wanted. We are facing another tough team on Sunday and even though we beat them during the group stage, we expect a better fight from them this time around because everything is at stake here. It will not be a walkover and we are going out there to fight for the title,” said Nonhlanhla.
Mthandi also spoke about the team’s defensive solidity, which has seen them maintain a perfect defensive record throughout the competition, “We try to protect our goalkeeper at all costs by defending and attacking as a team. We play for one another and ensure that we sacrifice for each other. This unity and commitment are what have helped us achieve a perfect defensive record in the competition.”
Karabo Dhlamini believes the win against AS FAR was simply a step in achieving the greater goal. “As much as the team is excited, the focus is still there because we are not done yet. So, we can only celebrate once the job is done on Sunday and we achieve our goal. Together, we are determined to leave it all on the pitch to achieve our objectives.”
Despite prevailing over Sporting Casablanca in the earlier fixture, Dhlamini reckons that playing against the same team twice in a tournament setting is a tough task.
“It is hard to play against the same team twice, especially in a competition such as this. The girls know how important it is never to underestimate teams, so we are going out there to fight for the result like we have been doing. From our first meeting, we have learned quite a lot about our opponents and we are aiming to deliver our best yet again to secure the title,” Karabo concluded.
The final on Sunday presents the Sundowns Ladies with a chance to follow in the footsteps of their male counterparts, who also recently beat a Moroccan side, Wydad Casablanca, in a final of a major African competition – the African Football League (AFL).
The game between Mamelodi Sundowns Ladies and Sporting Club Casablanca will take place on Sunday at the Stade Amadou Gon Coulibaly in Korhogo, with kick-off set for 22:00 CAT.