Tenacious Brazilians Maintain Perfect Start at the CAF Champions League

Mamelodi Sundowns Ladies have boosted their hopes of a semi-final place at the inaugural edition of the Total Energies CAF Women’s Champions League thanks to a hard-fought 1-0 victory over Nigeria’s Rivers Angel in their second Group B clash at the El Salam Stadium in Cairo.

The Nigerians who suffered a 3-0 defeat at the hands of Morocco’s ASFAR in their opening game, began the game on the front foot and almost grabbed the opener from a direct corner kick in the sixth minute, but goalkeeper Asa Rabalao proved equal to the task. The Angels continued to dominate proceedings with midfielder Ifeoma Ikenokwalu twice coming close in the first fifteen minutes.

The Brazilians responded a few minutes later thanks to Captain Zanele Nhlapho who struck a powerful right-footed shot from a delightful corner kick that narrowly crossed the goal line after coming off the post. The Brazilians continued to mount the pressure and almost doubled the advantage ten minutes later but Andisiwe Mgcoyi’s header failed to hit the target.

The Sundowns game plan continued to work wonders which prompted the Nigerians to make a tactical substitution in the last ten minutes of the first half with defender Mamuzo Edafe replaced by midfielder Ifeoma Polinus. Despite that change, Banyana Ba Style ended the first half on the front foot with Rhoda Mulaudzi blasting a free-kick just wide off the post.

The Rivers-based club was determined to stamp their authority after the restart and conjured up some early opportunities but was denied by the strong reflexes of Rabalao. The West Africans continued to create more opportunities and thought they had grabbed an equalizer seven minutes into the second half after Vivian Ikechukwu’s strike. However, their joy was short-lived as she was adjudged to have handled the ball before scoring.

The Brazilians then looked to the bench for more inspiration with Thalea Smidt and Lelona Daweti replacing Lerato Kgasago and Melinda Kgadiete respectively. With time running out, the Nigerian outfit launched a plethora of attacks but was thwarted yet again by the imperious Rabalao who delivered a goalkeeping masterclass to seal a narrow victory for the Chloorkop side.

The win meant the Brazilians remain the only country at the tournament yet to concede a single goal, an important statistic that excites ‘Woman of the Match’ Oratile Mokwena.

“I am more than happy with the performance of the team. We have shown our overall organisation at the tournament thus far. We would have loved to score more goals, but our opponents showed their defensive robustness. Despite the inability to add to our tally, we kept our composure and that saw us over the line. I am very excited to be acknowledged as the winner of this award, but this prize belongs to the team because we are working together as a unit to achieve our dreams,” stated the tireless midfielder.

With the Brazilians placed on 6 points with one more game to complete the group stage, ASFAR and Vihiga Queens are tied on 3 points apiece after the Kenyans registered a 2-0 win over the Moroccans in the game played earlier today.
Up next for Mamelodi Sundowns Ladies is a tasty clash against Morocco’s ASFAR on Friday where a draw or a win could earn the Brazilians’ a semi-final berth of the continent’s premier women’s tournament.

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