Mamelodi Sundowns Ladies crowned champions of 2023 CAF Women's Champions League
Mamelodi Sundowns Ladies crowned champions of 2023 CAF Women's Champions League

Mamelodi Sundowns Ladies reclaim CAF Women's Champions League title

Mamelodi Sundowns Ladies cemented their place as the queens of football in Africa as they were crowned CAF Women's Champions League winners for the second time in three years on Sunday night.

In a Banyana Banyana style they defeated the new Moroccan kids on the block Sporting Casablanca 3-0 in the 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 in the 78th minute. She finished the tournament as the top goal scorer with a record-setting five goals.   

Sundowns are the first side to win the Women's Champions League twice, having won the inaugural tournament in 2021.

They are the first South African men's or women's team to win the Champions League twice. Sundowns (2016) and Orlando Pirates (1995) have each won the men's tournament once.

Sundowns Ladies have been the strongest side in the women's tournament. They have featured in all three finals, losing 4-0 last year to AS FAR on their home turf in Rabat, Morocco.   
Against the four-year-old Casablanca, Sundowns started the game well, taking the game to their opponents and ensuring they spent most of their efforts defending.   

Downs 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 gameplan to ensure they did not struggle for goals.   

Tholakele broke the deadlock in the 21st minute 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.   

Sporting were not prepared to go down without a fight, and launched their attacks on the counter, coming close to finding the back of the net on the half-hour. But Sundowns goalkeeper Andile Dlamini, excellent in the match, produced a fine one-on-one save against Agueicha Diarra.  

The forward was set up by Chaymaa Mourtaji, who beat at two Sundowns defenders before finding Diarra. Dlamini produced more fine saves in the early stages of the second half to deny Mourtaji and others.    

Sundowns wrapped up the victory with 12 minutes to play when impressive Lebogang Ramapele displayed exceptional skills. She put through 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.   

Sundowns finished the tournament without conceding a goal while they scored 10.

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