Cape Town – Mamelodi Sundowns Ladies returned to a wildly cheering crowd at Johannesburg airport with the CAF Women's Champions League trophy in tow to an ecstatic welcome usually reserved for rock stars.
The team, adorned with winners’ medals, returned home on Sunday morning following their historic victory in the first-ever CAF Women's Champions League final in Cairo. They triumphed 2-0 over Ghana’s Hasaacas Ladies on Friday. To crown it all, Sundowns kept a clean sheet throughout the inaugural 10-day continental tournament.
The multitude of 'Yellow Nation' supporters were joined by several players from the club’s Premiership team, who have already conquered Africa in 2016.
Before the team touched down, SAFA President Danny Jordaan said Mamelodi Sundowns Ladies made the country proud.
“In the back of our minds, we knew our ladies would do it because, from the word go, they looked the most complete side," said Jordaan. "The national professional league, the Hollywoodbets Super League has done wonders in improving the standard of women football, and more is to come.
"By finishing the entire tournament without conceding a goal shows the vast difference between our girls and the rest of the continent. They have set the bar and now need to maintain those lofty standards.
"Women football in South Africa has been growing in leaps and bounds, and Banyana Banyana set the tone this year by winning the Aisha Buhari Cup, beating Super Falcons of Nigeria in their backyard.’’
Banyana Banyana coach Desiree Ellis said he was always confident that the cup was "coming home'" as the team had shown terrific form in the Cosafa play-offs.
"Congratulations to Mamelodi Sundowns Ladies for conquering Africa, and what a way of achieving it – going all the way without conceding a goal," said Ellis. "Take a bow Champions - you are truly history makers."
Banyana Banyana star striker Thembi Kgatlana said Sundowns' conquest was a major step for women's football in the country.
‘’This is a huge step forward for women football in our country," said Kgatlana. "I watched this match throughout, and at the end of the match, I was truly proud to be a South African.
"Hollywoodbets Super League is proving to be a massive investment, and results are there for all to see. It was the Buhari Cup and now this. These are exciting times.’’