Mamelodi Sundowns Ladies nail down a semi-final berth after defeating Nigeria's flag bearers Rivers Angels
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Cape Town - Mamelodi Sundowns Ladies have nailed down a semi-final berth after their slender 1-0 win over Nigeria's flag bearers Rivers Angels in Tuesday evening’s 2021 TotalEnergies CAF Women's Champions Group B clash at the El Salam Stadium, Cairo.
The win allowed the undefeated Sundowns to go three points clear at the top of Group B standings with six points after two outings. Kenya’s Vihiga Queens and Morocco’s ASFAR are next best with three points, but the Kenyans have a slightly better goal difference.
The winless Rivers Angels prop up standings and have yet to bag a point after two outings.
After two rounds in both Group A and B matches, Sundowns are the only team in the eight-team field that have not yet conceded a goal. The Ghanaian outfit Hasaacas Ladies are the Group A log-leaders and have been far and away from the most prolific team after two rounds with six goals and one against.
Sundowns scored early in the match through a 17th-minute strike by their captain Zanele Nhlapho. They managed to keep that lead intact until the end to record their second successive win.
Sundowns midfielder Oratile Mokwena was named 'Woman of the Match' following her hardworking role in the team's engine room.
“The match was tough as we expected, so we tried to stay composed and play our style,” said Mokwena.
“It’s an honour to win the Woman of The Match award. As a midfielder the team is affected by my performance, so when we play as a unit it gets us where we want”.
“I’m not surprised by winning the award because every one of us deserves this, so I consider it for the whole team.
“I am more than happy with the performance of the team. We have shown our overall organisation at the tournament thus far.
"We would have loved to score more goals, but our opponents showed their defensive robustness.
"Despite the inability to add to our tally, we kept our composure and that saw us over the line."
Jerry Tshabalala, Sundowns coach, was relieved afterwards but not entirely happy with the team's performance. He also shared his thoughts on the upcoming game against ASFAR.
“It was a very tough game for us. We tried to play our football, but it was very difficult," said Tshabalala.
"I’m not completely happy with the performance, as we couldn’t score more.
“I’ve seen ASFAR more than once. It will be an open game as they like to play like us. They will be very dangerous.
"Anything can happen in football, so we have to be cautious.
“We are not the team that plays defensively. We will not set back, we will attack. We have to keep possession as much as we can”.
Edwin Okon, the Rivers Angels coach, said he was heartbroken by the defeat, the team's second on the trot.
“It was a good game, but not from our side," said Okon. "We created many chances but did not score.
"The goal we conceded is what makes me unhappy. This defeat breaks my heart as a coach."
Sundowns play their final group match on Thursday evening at the El Salam Stadium, Cairo.