Hostilities or not, the odds favour Downs Ladies

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Boitumelo Rabale and Lelona Daweti have scored seven goals between them. Photo: Nour Akanja / BackpagePix
Boitumelo Rabale and Lelona Daweti have scored seven goals between them. Photo: Nour Akanja / BackpagePix

SPORT


There’s no prize for predicting the hostilities that await CAF Women’s Champions League title-holders Mamelodi Sundowns Ladies at Prince Moulay Abdellah Stadium in Rabat, Morocco, this evening.

When Banyana Ba Style line up against host club AS FAR in the final, the team sheets will vaguely resemble the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations (Wafcon) final in July, when Banyana Banyana defeated Morocco to become the African champions.

A vociferous crowd is expected to rally behind the host club at the 52 000-seat venue.

As many as eight Morocco national team players who played in that Wafcon final on July 23 – at the same stadium in the Moroccan capital – are in the AS FAR squad that will face Sundowns Ladies.

READ: Downs Ladies a marked side

Ibtissam Jraïdi, Fatima Tagnaout, Najat Badri, Ghizlane Chhiri, Ghizlane Chebbak, Sanaâ Mssoudy, Hanane Aït El Haj and Khadija Er-Rmichi were all in tears as Banyana celebrated victory over the Atlas Lionesses.

South Africans will never forget their frayed nerves during the dying minutes of that final.

With Banyana leading 2-1, Morocco’s AS FAR attacking midfielder Tagnaout was almost unstoppable. Sporting an eye-catching hairstyle, the 23-year-old ran rings around the Banyana defence, but, in the end, Morocco retired with tears of sorrow while Sundowns Ladies goalkeeper Andile Dlamini, defenders Karabo Dhlamini and Bambanani Mbane, midfielder Thalea Smidt, and forwards Melinda Kgadiete and Tiisetso Makhubela shed tears of joy along with the rest of Desiree Ellis’ historic squad that won South Africa’s first Wafcon title.

READ: High five, Banyana!

Dlamini and Mbane would have told their fellow back line members Zanele Nhlapho, Karabo Makhurubetshi and Chuene Morifi of how dangerous Tagnaout and Jraïdi can be if left unchecked.

But the Moroccans will be fully aware that Sundowns Ladies – who won the inaugural Champions League in Egypt exactly a year ago without losing a single match – are developing into an unstoppable force in continental women’s football, after they again cantered to the final of this year’s tournament unbeaten.

In nine matches, Sundowns Ladies have won seven and drawn two. The ruthless South African champions have also scored a staggering 12 goals in this year’s tournament, the highest number of goals scored by a club in a single tournament. Talismanic striker Lelona Daweti, Sundowns Ladies’ version of the men’s side sharpshooter Peter Shalulile, scored four goals going into tonight’s final. The 23-year-old is steadily becoming what Shalulile is to the largely successful men’s team.

READ: Downs Ladies evoke historic clashes as they chase glory

Daweti and inspirational midfielder Boitumelo Rabale have arguably carried the team to the final, registering seven goals between them.

With her goal-scoring exploits, Daweti is the first player to score in all her team’s group games as well as in three games in a row at the competition.

In the group stages, Banyana Ba Style beat Bayelsa Queens of Nigeria 2-1, thrashed Egypt’s Wadi Degla 5-0 and thumped TP Mazembe 4-0 last week on their unchecked march to the semifinals.

They showed resilience and staying power in the only match they were, for the first time in the tournament, truly tested, registering a narrow win over Tanzania’s Simba Queens in the semifinals in Rabat on Wednesday.

AS FAR, on the other hand, have been scraping through. The Moroccans beat Simba Queens 1-0, came from behind with two converted penalties to win 2-1 against Zambia’s Green Buffaloes and won 2-0 against Liberia’s Determine Women to advance to the semis.

The Les Militaires, who lost in the semifinals last year against Ghana’s Hasaacas Ladies, a team that Sundowns Ladies defeated 2-0 in the final in Cairo, secured a 1-0 semifinal victory over Bayelsa Queens to set up a final clash against the South African champions. The odds favour Sundowns Ladies when the game kicks off at 9pm.


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