EN, FR, PR: Stage set for CAF Women’s Champions League | COSAFA Qualifiers

Green Buffaloes know their task will be difficult, but they are determined to defend the CAF Women’s Champions League | COSAFA Qualifiers title they won in Durban last year when the 2023 tournament gets under way in the South African coastal city on Wednesday.

The Zambian champions will be in action at the Sugar Ray Xulu Stadium when they take on Double Action Ladies from Botswana (kick-off 15h30 CAT), who like Buffaloes are returning for a third successive year to the regional championship.

Buffaloes edged inaugural champions Mamelodi Sundowns on penalties following a goalless draw in the decider last year, and with only the winners of this year’s competition advancing to the continental finals in Ivory Coast in November, it is all to play for this time round.

Buffaloes also have Lesotho Defence Force and debutantes Ntopwa Super Queens in their pool. Those two clash in the opening game of the tournament at the same venue at 12h00 CAT).

“It is not an easy group, two of the teams have been here before. There are no easy games, so we will have to play our best,” Buffaloes coach Carol Kanyemba said. “Playing at the continental finals last year was a big boost for us in terms of gaining experience and understanding the level required.

“As coaches it also gave us a lot of information on the things we needed to work on, and we want that experience again.”

Kanyemba says her side is aware of the challenge but are determined to retain their title.

“Whenever you go into a battle you do not see yourself as a loser. We are here to win and defend our title so we can return to the continental finals. It will not be easy, but we will do our best.”

At the other end of the scale is Ntopwa from Malawi, who appear for the first time. They are coached by former Flames defender James Sangala, who knows Durban well from time spent playing for Thanda Royal Zulu in South Africa’s Premier Soccer League.

His is the only side making their debut this year and he says that can be an advantage as they come into the competition as a completely unknown quantity.

“We have a good balance in our squad, with some experienced players who have been with the team from 2012, and then another crop of players who have come through the development structures in the last five years,” Sangala says.

“Then we have another group that is just coming in, 15- and 16-year-olds. Our average age I would say is about 20 or 21 years old. We also have four or five players who have already represented the Malawi senior national team, and also others who were at the Under-17 Region 5 Games (in Malawi) last year.

“People do not have any idea of what we have and what we can do, which is an advantage to us. We also have the underdog tag, which is another advantage, because people are not focused on us.”

In Group B, which gets under way on Thursday, Mamelodi Sundowns headline the pool as they seek to regain the trophy they won in 2021.

They meet Olympic de Moroni from Comoros in their opening fixture at the Sugar Ray Xulu Stadium at 15h30 CAT. The other match sees Costa do Sol from Mozambique take on Young Buffaloes of Eswatini at 12h00 CAT.

“It is a tricky draw for us,” Tshabalala told the Mamelodi Sundowns website. “Although we have some previous experience against some of the teams, we know that women’s football on the continent is improving.

“Many of these teams are not what they were last year because they have beefed up certain key areas of their setups. So, we must be at the top of our game to avoid any surprises.”

Tshabalala says there were also plenty of lessons learnt from their final loss to Green Buffaloes last year.

“That final took us by surprise in terms of their approach to the game,” he said. “They frustrated us on several occasions, but we have worked on certain observations from that game. We did learn the hard way and we have used the lessons from last year’s final to refine our game.

“We are working very hard to become unpredictable to teams because we understand that adaptability and innovation are key in competitions such as these.”

Entrance for fans to all matches will be FREE of charge, with tickets available at the stadium on match day. They are limited to four per person. You can view all the fixtures here.
If you cannot get to the stadium, you can watch all matches streamed LIVE on FIFA+. Games will also be carried on SuperSport.

Une première journée déjà décisive
La CAF Women’s Champions League | COSAFA Qualifiers 2023 prend son envol ce mercredi à Durban. Quatre affiches sont au programme de cette nouvelle édition qui promet d’être aussi palpitante que les précédentes. En match d’ouverture Lesotho Defence Force  affrontera les débutantes de Ntopwa FC du Malawi. Green Buffaloes, champions en titre, débutera sa campagne contre Double Action Ladies. Ces deux rencontres du groupe A auront lieu au Sugar Ray Xulu Stadium

C’est le début d’une course acharné qui va durer 10 jours. 10 jours durant lesquelles les formations engagées tenteront de se qualifier pour la phase finale continentales de la Ligue des champions de la CAF qui se tiendra en Côte d’Ivoire en novembre. Seul le vainqueur des qualifications COSAFA obtiendra sa place. Les champions de 2021, Mamelodi Sundowns, commenceront leur défi du groupe B avec un match contre Olympic de Moroni des Comores le 31 août. Ce match se jouera également au Sugar Ray Xulu Stadium. Avant cela, Costa do Sol du Mozambique affrontera les Young Buffaloes d’Eswatini.

Chaque équipe disputera trois matchs lors de la phase de groupes, les deux premières de chaque groupe se qualifieront pour les demi-finales. Ces matchs à élimination directe auront lieu le 6 septembre, et la finale ainsi que le match pour la troisième place auront lieu le 8 septembre. A noter que toutes les rencontres seront diffusées en direct sur FIFA+. Une nouvelle fois, l’entré au stade sera gratuite afin de permettre à un maximum de spectateurs de venir assister aux rencontres.

Les Green Buffaloes de Zambie ont remporté le titre en 2022, battant les Sundowns aux tirs au but en finale, les deux équipes se qualifiant ainsi pour les finales continentales, les Sundowns en tant que champions en titre de la CAF. Les Double Action Ladies et Olympic De Moroni reviennent également cette année. Les Double Action ont participé aux deux éditions précédentes et ont atteint les demi-finales à chaque fois. En fait, ces deux équipes se sont affrontées pour la médaille de bronze en 2022, avec la victoire de l’équipe botswanaise sur le score de 3-0. L’Olympic De Moroni a fait ses premiers pas dans la compétition l’année dernière.

Les Young Buffaloes reviennent pour une deuxième année après avoir perdu leurs deux matchs de groupe en 2022, tandis que les Lesotho Defence Force ont participé à la compétition inaugurale en 2021 et ont obtenu un seul point lors de leurs trois matchs de groupe. Costa Do Sol est de retour pour la deuxième année consécutive après avoir perdu ses deux matchs en 2022, tandis que le Ntopwa FC du Malawi fait ses débuts et est le premier club de ce pays à participer à la compétition.

Um primeiro dia já decisivo
A COSAFA continua empenhada em tornar os seus torneios tão acessíveis ao maior número possível de adeptos e, ao proporcionar entrada GRATUITA no estádio, é uma oportunidade para os indivíduos e as famílias assistirem a um futebol de primeira classe.

Double Action foi segundo classificado da série e terceiro da competição, ao vencer o jogo de apuramento para o precioso lugar frente a Olympique de Moroni.

A outra série foi dominada por Green Buffaloes, que teve como directo perseguidor as insulares das Comores. Young Buffaloes foi, tal como as “canarinhas”, “lanterna vermelha” do grupo.

Como campeão e vice-campeão regionais, Green Buffaloes e Mamelodi Sundowns, participaram na última edição da Liga dos Campeões Africanos, que se realizou no ano passado, em Marrocos.