Coach Jerry Tshabalala is casting his net wider after guiding the Mamelodi Sundowns women’s team to a historic triumph in African football on Sunday evening.
Sundowns became the first team on the continent to win the CAF Women’s Champions League for a second time after beating Sporting Club Casablanca 3-0 in the final in Korhogo, Ivory Coast, on Sunday.
It was a victory that confirmed Sundowns’ sheer dominance on the continent, having now won the title twice in three successive finals. They won the inaugural crown in 2021 before losing it last year.
Sundowns’ win on the continent was not a fluke. Instead, it was continuation of their domestic and regional dominance, having won five titles and two Cosafa Championships.
So, having proved to be no match for domestic, regional or continental teams, Sundowns have sets their eyes on competing with the best around the globe.
“When you see me happy, I’m trying to rub that off to my players. A happy player is a star that will always deliver results for you. So, we don’t have room for sadness,” Tshabalala said.
“We’ve won two of them, and we want to keep doing good. We hope that Fifa can announce the Club World Cup, that’s the bigger vision for us as the club.”
Tshabalala had ample reason to start and end his media conferences with a happy face, his team having ensured that they won all five matches, scoring 10 goals and conceding none. It’s been an incredible milestone for Tshabalala’s team in the city of Korhogo, in that they matched a tough record they set in their maiden campaign two years ago.
“They normally say lightning doesn’t stike twice at the same place but it seems like it has,” said Tshabalala before lauding his troops for the replication of their heroics.
“We won the inaugural one without conceding, and the same happened now. I am really happy, though I wouldn’t say we were stronger than the other teams – I think we prepared well.”
Sure, Sundowns prepared and played as a collective but there were individuals that walked away with awards during the ceremonial event after the tournament.
Downs won the Fair Play award, Andile Dlamini was crowned the Goalkeeper of the Tournament, Tholakele Refilwe won the Golden Boot award and Boitumelo Rabale bagged the Golden Ball. But Tshabalala was still modest in his reflection on their awards, saying that the players or technical team can’t take sole credit for their good deeds.
“The awards represent a lot. They mean that the hard work the team has been doing is being rewarded. It can only be through hard work that we got all the way,” he said.
“We really appreciate the hard work from the players, technical team and everyone that’s involved in making everything happen at the football club.”
But while Tshabalala has decided to put the spotlight on the team, he has also received a major recognition. He was nominated for the CAF Coach of the Year, in the women’s category, for the second year in a row last week.
Having lost the award to his compatriot Desiree Ellis, Banyana Banyana coach, last year, Tshabalala is hoping to be lucky this time around – even though he won’t sulk if he’s not.
“It’s the second time in a row that I am a nominee in the CAF awards. I’m just hoping that this time around I’ll bring it home. But awards are awards, it’s just appreciation of your good work,” he said.