Cape Town – Mamelodi Sundowns will have to come out all guns blazing in Sunday's CAF Women’s Champions League final at the Stade Moulay Hassan, Rabat, Morocco.
Given that the make-up of their opponents AS Far (Sports Association of the Royal Armed Forces) is a team drawn from the ranks of the Moroccan army, Sundowns will have no other choice.
In the semi-final against the stubborn Tanzanian champions Simba, Sundowns emerged winners after an unconvincing performance. Their coach Jerry ‘Kappa' Tshabala explained afterwards that the team's preparation was not ideal, and the pre-match travelling was exhausting.
The team battled in the first half but struck up a greater measure of cohesion in the second stanza and eked out a hard-fought win.
“What a tough game," said Tshabalala. "Tactically, I thought Simba got it right in the first half and until the 70th minute (when we scored).
“When you see a very clever coach like (Charles Lukula) the Simba coach, and they have Fathi Issa who normally plays as a central midfielder but was converted to a right wingback to close down our speedy winger, it tells you they have a very good coach.
“As much as we played in patches, sometimes there were times I felt the more we kept the ball the better for us.
“We had a bad first half. In the second, we came back guns blazing."
Sundowns match-winner Boitumelo Rabale who scored the goal in the 1-0 win over Tanzania’s Simba Queens in the semi-final, said the team was focused on winning the final for the second consecutive year.
Sundowns won the inaugural edition in 2021 when they claimed the trophy after defeating Ghana's Hasaacas Ladies.
Rabale, a Lesotho international, scored the winner after a sublime finish to ensure the team reached the final.
“This is the goal we had before embarking on this competition, and we are very happy to achieve it," said Rabale, who won the 'Woman of the Match' award.
“We had great opposition today, possibly the strongest we have had since the start of the tournament. I am happy to be the 'Woman of the Match', and also happy to help my team to reach the final."
With three goals to her name and two 'Woman of the Match' accolades in the tournament, the Lesotho women's team captain underlined the fighting spirit of her teammates in their latest triumph.
“I want to highlight the mental strength of our team. We had some difficulties, it was not an easy match," she added.
"But we all throw ourselves in as individuals to come to defend our titles and we have done a good job so far as a team. I just want us to win this title and bring the trophy back home.
“We are very excited about the victory because our opponents were difficult to break down across the pitch.
"It is always a pleasure to play a part in the team’s success and scoring the winning goal means so much to me. This victory was a result of our hard work and absolute determination to retain the continental title we won last year."
It might point to a good omen that many of the Sundowns players will be familiar with the venue for the final because a few of them were in the Banyana Banyana team that won there in the final of the 2022 Women's Africa Cup of Nations (Wafcon) against Morocco who went down 2-1.