With qualification for the inaugural CAF Women’s Champions League secured, analysis has started for the Mamelodi Sundowns Ladies as they prepare for their sternest test yet.
Even the team’s star striker, Melinda Kgadiete, warned that the tournament would be uncharted waters for everyone.
Since they were founded in 2009, Banyana Ba Style have dominated the local women’s club football scene.
Last week, Sundowns also confirmed their status as the powerhouse in the southern African region after Kgadiete’s five goals helped her club secure a spot in the eight-team tournament that is set to take place in Cairo, Egypt, in November.
“This one is going to be tough because we will be playing against top teams from the continent. We don’t know anything about these teams and have never played them before,” Kgadiete told City Press.
“We will only rely on video clips of some of their games. We all know that teams from north Africa are physically and tactically good. But I believe in my team and we will be ready for them. We will do our best to bring the trophy home.”
Sundowns Ladies qualified for the premier continental women’s club competition after beating Black Rhinos Queens of Zimbabwe 3-0 in the final of the Cosafa qualifiers in Durban last weekend.
The other teams that have qualified for the continental showpiece are hosts Wadi Degla SC, AS FAR of Morocco, Mali champions AS Mandé, Hasaacas Ladies FC from Ghana and Rivers Angels FC of Nigeria.
Kenya’s Vihiga Queens beat Commercial Bank from Ethiopia on Thursday to qualify.
The remaining spot will be determined today in the play-offs involving Malabo King of Equatorial Guinea and FCF Amani from the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The tournament is the first of its kind and most of the teams will be playing each other for the first time.
While north and west African players are known for their physical game, South Africans mostly play with flair. This, however, does not deter Kgadiete, who is expected to lead the Sundowns attack in Egypt.
The 29-year-old sharpshooter from Mdantsane in East London, Eastern Cape, warned:
“Physical players are usually not very fast, so we will have an advantage over them. I don’t think they will be able to keep up with us. I don’t think scoring goals will be a problem.”
Sundowns Ladies have a number of national team players and this experience should come in handy in the Champions League.
“The good thing about our team is that most of our players have international experience. So, it’s not like we are completely clueless of what to expect. We know what we need to do to succeed,” said Kgadiete, who formed a deadly combination with Andisiwe Mgcoyi.
The pair bagged a hat-trick each during the Cosafa tournament in Durban.
Kgadiete and Bambanani Mbane are the only two Downs players in Desiree Ellis’ Banyana Banyana squad who will take part in the Aisha Buhari Cup, which kicks off in Lagos, Nigeria, on Wednesday and ends on September 21.
The Downs Ladies are keen to emulate their male counterparts, who clinched the premier continental title under former coach Pitso Mosimane in 2016.
Assistant coach Agnes Nkosi led them in the qualifying tournament.