On Sunday, November 19th, Mamelodi Sundowns Ladies etched their name in African football history by winning the Women’s African Champions League for the second time. In a thrilling final held at Amadou Gon Coulibaly Stadium in Korhogo, Ivory Coast, they defeated Sporting Club Casablanca with a 3-0 victory.
The Sundowns, known as Banyana Ba Style, showcased their dominance from the outset. Botswana’s Refilwe Tholakele opened the scoring in the 21st minute with a penalty following a handball incident confirmed by VAR. This early lead was swiftly bolstered by Boitumelo Rabale of Lesotho, who netted a well-placed shot from just outside the box, sending the ball into the bottom right-hand corner.
The South African club’s goalkeeper, Andile Dlamini, played a pivotal role in maintaining their lead. Her exceptional saves, particularly against Agueicha Diarra’s effort, ensured a clean sheet for Sundowns. Tholakele, later in the match, rounded off the scoring with a calm finish from 12 yards, completing her brace and confirming the victory for her team.
This triumph is not just a testament to Sundowns’ prowess on the field but also a reflection of their consistent performance throughout the tournament. They won all five games without conceding a single goal, a remarkable feat highlighting their defensive solidity and attacking flair. Tholakele, with her record-setting five goals, emerged as the top goal scorer of the tournament.
The victory is especially significant as it marks Sundowns Ladies as the first team to win the tournament twice, having first triumphed in its inaugural edition in 2021. They are also the first South African team, encompassing both men and women, to achieve this feat, with Sundowns men winning in 2016 and Orlando Pirates in 1995.
Reflecting on their victory, Dlamini said, “We did it for the young girls who believe in us. We don’t talk too much but we work on the field. That’s who we are. We are South Africans and we are proud.” This statement encapsulates the team’s spirit and dedication, serving as an inspiration for aspiring footballers across the continent.
The Sundowns Ladies’ victory is not just a win for the team but a milestone for women’s football in Africa. It underscores the growing prominence and competitiveness of the sport, paving the way for future generations of female footballers.