The success of Mamelodi Sundowns Ladies in winning both the COSAFA and CAF Women’s Champions Leagues last year has had more of a spin-off than just claiming the prestige of lifting the title and the taste of glory.
Both those experiences have helped greatly to shape the Banyana Banyana side that will compete in the 2022 Women’s Africa Cup of Nations final against Morocco on Saturday, and it is no surprise, or coincidence, that there are five players from Sundowns in the current squad.
That is the most of any single team and is another sign of the platform that COSAFA provides – now at both club and country level – for players to be exposed to the international game, learn and grow.
Sundowns will be back to defend their TotalEnergies CAF Women’s Champions League | COSAFA Qualifier title in Durban from August 7-13, but before that a number of their players have a continental title to claim.
It was the same for Zambian side Green Buffaloes, whose run to the semifinals of the regional championship last season will have been a boost for their seven players that were part of the Copper Queens team that picked up the bronze medal in Morocco on Friday.
Zambia also achieved a first ever qualification for the FIFA Women’s World Cup, where they will be joined by South Africa in 2023.
Here are the five Sundowns players who could feature in Saturday’s continental final.
Dlamini has been the first choice goalkeeper for Banyana through the tournament and also carried that mantel for Sundowns in their run to the CAF Champions League title after overcoming injury. She is acrobatic and a good shot-stopper, and reads the game well. The 29-year-old has grown into a very dependable member of the side.
Dhlamini has largely been the starting left-back in Morocco and performed well with her ability to get into forward positions and good delivery from the flank. She is also a very dependable defender and despite being only 20, has good experience under her belt after a number of years in the national team. She is keeping childhood friend Sibulele Holweni out of the side.
The rock in defence for Banyana, she forms an excellent centre-back pairing with Noko Matlou, so much so it is keeping the vastly experienced Janine van Wyk on the bench. Mbane is expert at reading the game and always seem to be in the right place at the right time. She is also quick across the ground and strong in the tackle.
Smidt forced her way into the Banyana reckoning on the back of her exploits at the COSAFA and CAF Champions Leagues, where she was excellent as a busy midfielder who can both win the ball and get her side onto the front foot quickly. She never stops working and is one of those players who seems to pop up everywhere on the pitch.
Kgadiete was the top scorer at the 2021 COSAFA Women’s Champions League with five goals and has proven herself a more than handy addition to Banyana as well. She is effective off the bench as an impact player and has a rocket shot that can been too hot to handle for keepers. The 30-year-old has featured in four of Banyana’s five games at the competition so far.