Mamelodi Sundowns Ladies began their CAF Women’s Champions League campaign with a dominant 2-0 victory over Tanzanian side JKT Queens at the Amadou Gon Coulibaly Stadium on Sunday evening.
Goals from Lebogang Ramalepe and Refilwe Tholakele in each half ensured that Banyana Ba Style extended their incredible group stage record at the continent’s premier tournament to their sixth win in seven group stage matches played since the inception of the tournament.
The first half of the game saw the Brazilians display fluidity, smoothness and composure and it was no surprise that the two-time COSAFA champions grabbed the lead four minutes before the break thanks to a close-range finish from the highly energetic Ramalepe.
After the restart, Refilwe Tholakele was on hand to finish off a fine team move with her left foot to seal all three points for the South African outfit.
After the highly entertaining game, Coach Jerry Tshabalala provided a tactical analysis of how the game unfolded.
“Kudos to JKT Queens; in the first half, they managed to match us pound for pound, but in terms of fitness later on, they looked a bit tired. However, overall, they gave a good account of themselves. One of our plans was to suffocate them more in their half and Lebohang Ramalepe and Chuene Morifi were very key to that because they pressed well from the wings. We wanted to control possession and create opportunities and our players executed that strategy brilliantly. I am proud of my team’s performance and we will continue to work on our fitness and tactics as the tournament progresses,” Coach Jerry stated.
Coach Tshabalala also believes experience played a key part in the team’s win over the Tanzanian side.
“When you look at our team, we have several experienced players, with many of them having played in Europe like today’s goalscorers. Ramalepe particularly had a very good game and was even named Player of the Match. Kholosa Biyana has also played in Europe and she was amazing throughout. We also have very experienced players who have consistently featured for the South Africa women’s national football team. The experience we have in our team helped us a lot today and we are pleased about this,” the Downs Ladies coach added.
Karabo Makhurubteshi expressed what it meant to register a victory in their CAF Women’s Champions League opener.
“It is always important to start with a positive result in tournaments such as these because it boosts the team’s confidence. I am proud of the overall team performance because we played for each other and it was a team effort from start to finish. Moving forward, we hope to build upon this victory and take all the positives from the game. We know what is at stake and everyone is determined to go all the way to win the trophy,” Karabo stated.
In the other Group A match played earlier, hosts Athletico Abidjan played out a 1-1 draw with Sporting Casablanca. That result means Banyana Ba Style is currently at the top of the table with 3 points, while Athletico and Sporting have one point apiece.
Sundowns Ladies will next face Sporting Casablanca on Wednesday night in what promises to be a crucial encounter.