Mamelodi Sundowns Ladies crowned African champs after emphatic victory over Casablanca
Mamelodi Sundowns Ladies have cemented their place as the queens of football in Africa after they were crowned the women's Caf Champions League winners for the second time in three years.
On Sunday evening, Banyana Ba Style defeated the impressive new Moroccan kids on the block, Sporting Casablanca, by 3-0 in the tournament's final at Amadou Gon Coulibaly Stadium in Korhogo, Ivory Coast.
First-half goals from Botswana international Refilwe Tholakele, who finished the match with a brace, and Boitumelo Rabale of Lesotho set Sundowns up for victory.
Tholakele completed her brace at 78 minutes and confirmed the victory for Banyana Ba Style.
She finished the tournament as the top goal scorer with a record-setting five goals.
Sundowns are the first side to win the tournament twice, having first won in 2021 during the tournament inception.
They are the first South African team to win the Champions League twice, both men and women. Sundowns men (2016) and Orlando Pirates (1995) have done it once.
They have been the strongest side in the tournament. They have featured in three finals and were defeated 4-0 last year by AS FAR Rabat, also from Morocco.
Against the four-year-old Casablanca, Sundowns started the game well, taking the game to their opponents and subjecting them to many defending duties.
Sundowns came into the game expecting their opponents to apply a low block, as when they met in the group stages, where the South Africans won 1-0.
But coach Jerry Tshabalala and his team devised a successful plan to make sure they didn't struggle to get goals.
Tholakele broke the deadlock at 21 minutes from the penalty spot. Sundowns got the penalty after VAR found that Ivorian-born player Sylviane Adjoua used a hand to block Chuene Morifi's shot.
Rabale doubled Masandawana's lead three minutes later with a well-taken strike from just outside the box.
Casablanca were not prepared to go down without a fight, and they launched their attacks on the counter and came close to finding the back of the net at the half-hour mark.
But Sundowns goalkeeper Andile Dlamini, who was brilliant in the match, produced a fine one-on-one save against Agueicha Diarra.
The forward was set up by Chaymaa Mourtaji, who beat at least two Sundowns defenders before finding Diarra.
Dlamini produced more great saves in the second half's early stages to deny Mourtaji and others’ crucial goals.
Sundowns wrapped the victory with 12 minutes to play when an impressive Lebogang Ramapele displayed exceptional skills. She put down a long pass from the opposite side of the pitch and found Melinda Kgadieta in Casablanca's box.
Kgadieta found Tholakele near the penalty spot, and the Botswana star dribbled one defender and found the back of the net, scoring a goal.
Sundowns finished the tournament without conceding a goal while they scored 10.
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