Playing for the maiden cup

Abeer Anwar , Tuesday 16 Nov 2021

The CAF Women’s Champions League concludes in Egypt on Friday,

All eyes on the ball for the final slot
All eyes on the ball for the final slot

The final match of the inaugural two-week TotalEnergies CAF Women’s Champions League will see Ghana’s Hasaacas Ladies taking on Mamelodi Sundowns of South Africa on Friday 19 November at the 30 June Stadium in New Cairo, Egypt.

The championship is the first-ever CAF Women’s Champions League final tournament.

The play-off match for third place of the eight-team competition, which kicked off on 5 November, is scheduled to take place Thursday 18 November featuring ASFAR of Morocco and Malabo Kings of Equatorial Guinea.

On Monday, Hasaacas Ladies was the first team to make it to the final after beating Morocco’s ASFAR 2-1 at Al Salam Stadium. The Ghanaian ladies opened the scoring in the first half via Doris Boaduwaa before ASFAR scored the equaliser through Najat Badri at the last minute before the break.

In the second half, Hasaacas missed a penalty when Perpetual Agyekum’s effort rebounded from the post after 66 minutes.

The tournament’s top scorer Evelyn Badu scored the second and winning goal for Hassacas Ladies to end the game 2-1 despite ASFAR’s efforts to level the score.

The game’s Woman of the Match Janet Egyir, Hasaacas Ladies team captain, was thrilled with the title. “It feels great to win the Woman of the Match award. We feel great, this is a dream coming true for us.

“When we missed the penalty, we thought something was wrong with us. But then we pushed through and won. We are looking forward to the final game, whoever they are, we are ready for them,” Egyir told the media after receiving her award.

Head coach of the Hasaacas Ladies Yussif Basigi admitted the game wasn’t easy. “I said before this match that the game was not going to be easy. The tempo of the teams qualifying for this is very high. Yes, we missed the penalty, but having the penalty in the first place meant we were attacking and going to win.

“There were tactical variations in the second half. We are going to train the girls on finishing as this is a key element for us. The girls have faith in me and so do I. They listen to me carefully, that’s why our second half is more powerful most of the time.”

ASFAR’s head coach Abdallah Haidamu believed it wasn’t their day. “We were not lucky today, but I thank the girls for their efforts and we learnt a lot from this tournament.

“We are looking forward now to winning the third- place medal and not go home empty-handed. We will try and prepare the girls to concentrate on the next match,” he added.

After a goalless game that took both teams to extra time then penalties, Mamelodi Sundowns were through to the final game to face Hasaacas Ladies after beating their rivals Malabo Kings 5-4 on penalties.

Six penalty kicks were taken by both teams. Nhlapho, Mbane, Kgasago, Mthandi and Thusi scored the penalties for Mamelodi Sundowns and Esau missed one. Rose Bella, Bakoka, Abossolo, Baita scored for Malabo Kings while Salome Nke and Florence Fanta missed their spot kicks.

Mamelodi Sundowns’ goalkeeper Andile Dlamini was named Woman of the Match for an impressive performance.

“I’m grateful to God for creating this opportunity, and to CAF for doing this for women’s football. We have a big technical team to keep us calm no matter what happens. I have to be the calmest to guide my team.

“I dedicate this award to my mother who has done so much for me. I’ve been through a lot and was not able to breathe, drink or eat. Now I’m Woman of the Match and going to the final game. I’m so grateful,” the South African goalkeeper said.

Despite their loss, Malabo Kings head coach Ruben Garcia Gallego said they had a good game. “We played well. The reason of the loss is the penalties that do not know logic most of the time. So, it wasn’t just our luck. We still play for third place and we have to do our best to get out of this tournament with a medal.”

Jerry Tshabalala, Mamelodi Sundowns head coach, described their semi-final as tough. “It wasn’t an easy game for us. It was tough but I’m still in loss for the reason why whenever we play good football, we don’t score and vice versa.

“I must applaud my defenders. We have reached here, at this stage, the semi-final, because of them. To keep this many clean sheets is because of them.”

Before the game, Sundowns was the only team that hadn’t conceded any goal in the group stages.

“My team has shown that whenever we face a good side, we perform even better. So, I’m very excited for the final game. We are ready to take the title to South Africa,” Tshabalala said.

*A version of this article appears in print in the 18 November, 2021 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly

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