First-Ever CAF Champions League Gets Underway

By Esther Owusua Appiah-Fei

Above: Fatumata celebrates her goal for Wadi Degla. Photo: CAF Women

History was made in world football on Friday, November 5, when the inaugural edition of the CAF Women’s Champions League kicked off. Although the AS Mande players were tall and athletic, it wasn’t enough to make the ladies of Wadi Degla flinch. It was a rather thrilling opening game between AS Mande and the host nation’s club Wadi Degla. An early penalty kick, an enterprising team goal, and a final goal poacher drove the final nail into the ruins of AS Mande. When it looked like the game could possibly take a surprising turn of events after Awa’s consolation goal for Mande, Jasmine added that goal poacher to seal the deal.

All this ensued in the historic inaugural CAF Women’s Champions League taking place in Egypt. This fixture was the first Group A game of the tournament. The game lived up to its hype and gave all the thrills an opening game must give.

HOW WELDI WADI SAW OFF AS MANDE

The game had an early surprise after the referee blew her whistle to signal a penalty offense caused by Salimata Kone, captain of AS Mande. Hayam Abdelhafez made a thrusting run on the left flank of the Mande defense line and got cut out by Salimata. Captain of Wedi Degla, Noha Mamdouh shot a sublime penalty kick to give the host side the lead in just under 2 minutes of the game.

AS Mande quickly got in their groove desperate for a quick equalizer but that ended in total futility. The Egyptian side got cooking again and Hayam with her nimble feet surged on the left flank and launched an an-inch perfect cross into the 18-yard box. Fatumata got on the end of it with cool composure and slotted in the second goal of Wedi in the eighth minute.

Becki of AS Mande tried her best to cut through the defense of Weldi but her predominantly right foot made her so predictable and easy to nip.

It would have been three goals for Wadi Degla had Basant’s crisp header not been ruled out for offside. The offside call was a wake-up call for AS Mande to get enterprising and find the back of the net before the halftime whistle. After constantly trying, they managed to break through the defense of Weldi, and their Captain Awa Traore slotted it home with two defenders literally breathing down her neck.

The second half saw AS Mandi with more intent and determination to level their half deficit. They were the better of the two sides with Weldi intermittently posing a threat from their counterattacks. AS Mandi squandered so many chances through their striker, Bassira Toure. Little did they know that Weldi’s nimble-foot wingers would shoot them where it hurt the most. Jasmin Theresa poached a goal from a set-piece to restore their initial two-goal lead.

Wadi Degla managed to stand tall in a game where they utilized all their set pieces and nimble wingers to trap Mande in a 3-1 victory. They all bagged three points and are looking forward to their next group game matches. Hayam Abdelhafez was awarded Woman of the match.

In her post-game interview, Abdelhafez said “I’m not the best player, we are all better together. We prepared a lot, and this is beginning is the result of our hard work.”

“I want to win the woman of the match more than once. We have the concentration for every game to win n matter what happens and no matter how the teams play against us”.

Wadi Degla’s next game is against Malabo Kings FC on Monday, November 7, 2021, whereas AS Mande will go head to head with Hasaacas Ladies on the same day as well.

HASAACAS LADIES MESMERIZED FANS AFTER A 3-1 VICTORY OVER MALABO KINGS FC

Above: Evelyn Badu scores the first goal of the game. Pic: CAF Women

Ghana’s Women’s Premier League Champions, Hasaacas Ladies went head to head with the Champions of Equatorial Guinea in Game 2 of the CAF Women’s Champions League. It was an enthralling match and a highly physical game between two teams who are heavily attack-minded. Evelyn Badu of Hasaacas Ladies made history as the first woman to ever score a brace in the CAF Women’s Champions League.

WHAT ENSUED

The game started at a rather slow pace as both teams tried to work their way through the respective gameplan of their opponent. Hasaacas Ladies eased into the game more after ten minutes and set the ball rolling in the half of their opponents. Rahama Jafar found Evelyn Badu after a perfect through pass from midfield and she hit a low drive finish pass goalkeeper Ruth Chinasa to give Hasaacas the lead on the 11th minute. The rest of the half was a midfield battle between both sides with Hasaacas wasting most of their chances. One of such opportunities was a carefully worked pass to Doris Boaduwaa on the right flank of the 18-yard box where she played it directly into the hands of the Malabo Kings goalkeeper.

The second half began with Hasaacas ladies probing for more goals. Malabo Kings FC tried to break the defensive line of Hasaacas but the enterprising captain and defender, Janet Egyir gave no such chance to them. She built what could be termed as “the great wall of Hasaacas” at the back. Evelyn Badu showed how enthralling she was as she thumped two ambitious shots on target in high hopes of doubling the lead for Hasaacas and giving them room to breathe.

Her ambition paid off as she found the back of the net after Doris Boaduwaa launched a perfect cross in the 18-yard box. Evelyn converted it into a goal but it was ruled out for offside.

The game became a bit tepid from the 60th minute mark through to the 80th. Hasaacas Ladies, however, won a corner kick on the 83rd minute and Perpetual Agyekum dropped jaws as she scored directly from the setpiece. It was a mind-boggling moment that sealed her name as one of the best setpiece takers in the team and Ghana.

Photo: Evelyn Badu scores the first goal of the game. Photo: CAF Women

A dramatic twist of events occurred after Stephanie Gbogou halved the deficit on the 90th  just to announce a classic “Game on” moment. Malabo Kings harbored the idea of staging a dramatic comeback but Evelyn Badu’s ambitions on the pitch were far greater. Doris Boaduwaa teed up a nice ball into the 18-yard box and with cool composure, Evelyn slotted the final goal into the net sealing the victory for her team on the 93rd minute of the game. All hopes for a comeback for Malabo Kings just fizzled into the air.

Evelyn was awarded Woman of the match after her staggering performance on the pitch in her post-game interview she said,

“I thank God for this opportunity in my first match in WCL. The woman of the match award encourages me to do more for the team and for myself, I’m now more persistent to achieve more”.

Hasaacas Ladies will come up against AS Mande on the 8th of November 2021.

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