History will be made on Thursday when the first ball is kicked in the inaugural TotalEnergies CAF Women’s Champions League | COSAFA Qualifier, heralding in a new era for women’s football in the region.
The seven-team competition in Durban will serve as the preliminary tournament for the first ever TotalEnergies CAF Women’s Champions League that is scheduled to be staged in Egypt later this year, with only the tournament winner advancing to the continental finals.
But over and above that, it is the culmination of the long-held dream of COSAFA to stage a Women’s Champions League in which the best clubs sides in Southern Africa will battle it out for the right to be crowned Queens.
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the field for this year, with seven of the 14 COSAFA member associations represented, but that will change in the coming seasons as the region gets to grips with the pandemic.
The first ever match will be played at the King Zwelithini Stadium on Thursday when Botswana’s Double Action Ladies clash with Manzini Wanderers Ladies at 11h00 (09h00 GMT).
The top two teams will advance to the semifinals, so victory in the opening game would be a massive boost to either side.
Double Action captain Bonang Otlhagile says they are eager to repay the faith that has been shown in them by the Botswana Football Association.
“Thank you BFA for giving us this opportunity to represent not only the association but our nation at large. We promise to fight with all that we have to make all of you proud,” she said.
The second match on Thursday is between home club Mamelodi Sundowns Ladies and Lesotho Defence Force (14h00 CAT; 12h00 GMT).
Sundowns will be among the pre-tournament favourites and hoping to emulate the CAF Champions League success of their men’s side in 2016.
South African Football Association (SAFA) President Dr Danny Jordaan has spoken of the historic nature of the competition and urged Sundowns to give their all.
‘’This is a momentous occasion for South African women’s teams as they enter a new territory in this global sport. I want to wish Mamelodi Sundowns Ladies all the best as they fly the South African flag sky high,” Dr Jordaan said.
‘’Apart from home ground advantage, Sundowns Ladies are a well drilled side and I’m confident that they will conquer the region and go on to make us proud on the continent. This tournament is good for the women’s clubs, players and the sport in general as women’s football continues to grow from strength to strength.”
The three-team Group B will start on Friday when Green Buffaloes Ladies from Zambia take on Black Rhinos Queens of Zimbabwe (14h00 CAT; 12h00 GMT). The other team in the pool is TURA Magic of Namibia.
There are many ways you can follow the action, including live on the SABC Sport Channel 124 on Openview, SABC DTT and TelkomOne. All matches will also be streamed live on www.cosafa.tv.