Soccer Betting News - SA's Leading Soccer Betting Newspaper: River Angels vs Mamelodi Sundowns Ladies Preview

River Angels vs Mamelodi Sundowns Ladies Preview

Mamelodi Sundowns Ladies

Mamelodi Sundowns Ladies second match of the inaugural CAF Women’s Champions League finds the South African champions lock horns with Nigerian outfit River Angels. Masandawana come off a 1-0 win over Vihiga Queens, while this becomes a must-win encounter for River Angels who suffered a 3-0 loss to Moroccans, ASFAR Club.

CAF Women’s Champions League – Group B
Tuesday 9 November
Al Salam Stadium, Cairo, Egypt

River Angels

River Angels

Coach Edwin Okon’s River Angels’ opening Group B match was underwhelming for the six-time Nigerian Women's Premier League champions. Going down 3-0 to Moroccan outfit ASFAR Club is definitely not the way any team with aspirations of reaching the final would want to begin.

Although, we have to also consider that we have eight top-quality teams in the final tournament. ASFAR Club head coach Abdellah Haidamou claimed that they were the first Moroccan team to win the African Champions League in 1985 at the men's level, and their bet is to rewrite history with their women's team.

It’s difficult to disagree with ASFAR’s manager, after his team put River Angels to the sword with Sanaa Mssoudy scoring the first ever CAF Women’s Champions League hat-trick and look the team to beat in order for Sundowns to top Group B with their slick passing game and clinical finishing.

Tuesday evening’s opponents, River Angels, will effectively be out of the running for qualification to the semi-finals, if they fail to get a positive result against Sundowns, meaning the Nigerians will have everything to play for.

River Angels

Mamelodi Sundowns Ladies

Mamelodi Sundowns came through their first match unscathed with a 1-0 victory over Kenyan club Vihiga Queens thanks to Melinda Kgadiete’s solitary strike which decided matters in the first five minutes. A beautifully well-weighted cross over the top from Banyana Banyana centre-back Bambanani Mbane was enough for Melinda Kgadiete to latch onto and punish.

Melinda Kgadiete in action vs Vihiga Queens

Melinda Kgadiete was Masandawana’s leading goal-scorer during qualification, netting five times with strike partner Andisiwe Mgcoyi bagging four goals. Against Vihiga Queens, Sundowns came flying out the blocks as Melinda Kgadiete and Andisiwe Mgcoyi had a flurry of chances in the first 15 minutes that could’ve easily seen Sundowns five goals to the good within 20 minutes.

The tempo of the match slowed down afterwards as the Kenyan club began to see the errors of their ways and strict instructions by their coach was implemented to stop Sundowns creating as many goal-scoring opportunities as the opening period.

Chuene Morifi kept wreaking havoc on the left-flank and in football terms is simply the left-footed version of ‘Prime Thapelo Morena’. Morifi has many different ways to beat opponents and deliver quality balls into the final third, my personal favourite came in the 24th minute as she skinned the Vihiga Queens right-back for pace, nutmegged the defender, to then send in a dangerous ball across the face of the penalty area.

Chuene Morifi (centre)

Morifi also delivered out-swinging left-footed corners into the front post for Melinda Kgadiete and Andisiwe Mgcoyi to attack. Personally, my favourite weapon from set-pieces is the opposite – in-swinging left-footed crosses – like Ryan Giggs used at Manchester United.

Sundowns kept growing into the game and asserting dominance as captain Zanele Nhlapho quickly recognized Vihiga Queens begin to sit deeper in their own half, which allowed her to elegantly glide from central defence into the opposition half with ease and grace.

The South African club kept piling on the pressure, while keeping control of the encounter by always safeguarding the integrity of their shape when Vihiga Queens were in possession, yet always proving lethal in attack – within the exact same shape.

Goalkeeper Asa Rabolao was presented with a training ground save in the 30th minute, easily scooping up a long-range shot that was Vihiga Queens first shot on target, despite their tall and powerful forwards Jentri Milimu, Tereza Engesha and Violet Wanyonyi working their socks off to try and penetrate the Sundowns back-line.

Goalkeeper Asa Rabolao keeping her first touch sharp

After making the routine save, Asa Rabolao served the team with distinction, quickly reading a situation that, Mbane and Nhlapho couldn’t clear the first ball from a hopeful cross into the box, putting the ball out of touch for a corner and giving the team a chance to regroup.

10 minutes later Rabolao produced the goods again with a stunning one-hand save to keep Sundowns in the lead going into the half-time break.

Masandawana came flying out the box in the second half, just like the first, Andisiwe Mgcoyi failed to head in a glorious chance from a Rhoda Mulaudzi free-kick. This was Vihiga Queens biggest let off during the second half.

After 60 minutes played, Sundowns could sense Vihiga Queens tiring and pinned them into their own half by changing from a mid-line to a high-line defence. As soon as the Kenyan’s started building momentum, goalkeeper Asa Rabolao needed medical attention that allowed Sundowns to regroup.

Between the 65th and 75th minute, the clash turned into a cagey affair which resulted in coach Agnes Nkosi making a tactical change, injecting the pace and concise distribution of Thalea Smidt into midfield and sacrificed goal-scorer Melinda Kgadiete.

Thalea Smidt and Melinda Kgadiete

Smidt came in to assist box-to-box midfielders, Lerato Kgasago and Nonhlanhla Mthandi who put in stellar shifts throughout the 90 minutes. Midfielder Oratile Mokwena was superb, playing in the deep-lying playmaker role, spraying precise passes out to Morifi on the left and to the forwards constantly.

The change in shape saw Andisiwe Mgcoyi coming onto the right flank on a few occasions to help fellow forward Rhoda Mulaudzi with her defensive duties, prior to Mulaudzi being substituted for Lelona Daweti with seven minutes left on the clock. Mulaudzi also put in a proper shift when Vihiga Queens were in possession and deserved the first bump by coach Agnes Nkosi, as she stepped off the field of play.

Rhoda Mulaudzi

The match ended with a few memorable events in a short space of time. Morifi once again skinned the right-back to square a ball into the box, unfortunately for Masandawana, the fatigued Mgcoyi couldn’t reach it to put the game to bed.

Mthandi had enough energy for all three midfielders on the day, almost catching out the goalkeeper who attempted playing a lazy pass to the left-back. Vihiga Queens ended with a shot from long-range before mayhem almost struck for Sundowns.

A left-footed shot cannoned off the crossbar and back into play as Rabolao seemed to get fingertips to the ball, luckily Mbane and co. were in close proximity to clear the ball into touch as referee Shahenda El Maghribi put the whistle to her lips and blew for full time.

Bambanani Mbane

This is how Sundowns started against Vihiga Queens.

Mamelodi Sundowns Ladies

The key to keeping a clean sheet was goalkeeper Asa Rabolao’s ability to be cool as a cucumber by playing out of the press with very capable footwork, finding combinations with deep-lying playmaking midfielder Oratile Mokwena and the trusted back-three of Bambanani Mbane, Zanele Nhlapho and Karabo “Makhu” Makhurubetshi.

Lerato Kgasago’s efforts to be neat and tidy in possession and always being in the right place at the right time didn’t go unnoticed. Nonhlanhla Mthandi’s willingness to overload the opposition on the right-flank with Rhoda Mulaudzi, while keeping shape in midfield speaks volumes about the understanding between the team. Mthandi was always very quick to follow up the pressing triggered by forwards Andisiwe Mgcoyi and Melinda Kgadiete.

Rhoda Mulaudzi was immense off the ball, always prepared to get stuck in and cause a turnover of possession. Chuene Morifi played a very offensive role and is a stronger contender for topping the assists charts in the tournament.

Andisiwe Mgcoyi

Prediction: Mamelodi Sundowns Ladies Win
Mamelodi Sundowns possess enough quality to put their Nigerian opponents defence to the sword. I know I was overly bullish in my last preview, claiming that it’s not a question of are they going to reign victorious, but rather, how many do Sundowns win by?

I’m more confident in that prediction this time around after watching both teams closely. Sundowns will score five goals and run amok with River Angels in Cairo to secure a strong footing in Group B’s log standings.

Written by Bryan Naicker