Cape Town – The Mamelodi Sundowns Ladies made a winning start to their Total Energies CAF Women’s Champions League campaign with a 1-0 win over Kenya’s Vihiga Queens in their Group B pipe-opener at the Al-Salam Stadium in Cairo on Saturday.
The South Africans made heavy weather of the contest after taking an early lead in the fourth minute through striker Melinda Kgadiete, who was the leading goalscorer in the COSAFA Qualifiers with five goals in August at the King Zwelithini Stadium in Durban.
Soon afterwards, Kgadiete missed out on a chance to bag a brace and she spurned another chance early in the second half.
The Kenyans produced a strong finish, but the Sundowns defence held out to keep their slender lead intact until the final whistle.
Queens’ goalkeeper Lilian Onyango was named 'Woman of the Match' for her excellent display between the sticks after keeping the opposition at bay for sustained periods of play.
Sundowns assistant coach Agnes Nkosi said the team had tried to settle the contest earlier on, but Onyango denied them several times.
"We tried to finish the match early, but they played defensively, and their goalkeeper did great," said Nkosi.
“It’s good for us to have the three points to get the confidence the players will need for future matches.
"We could’ve changed the result today if we’d converted our chances into goals, but this is what we’ll work on”.
Queens coach Charles Okere, the mentor of Kenya's national women's team, said he was proud of the fighting spirit the team displayed.
“I congratulate Mamelodi Sundowns on the win, and I congratulate my players on fighting till the end," said Okere.
"We’ve trained to play defensively, but we did not defend well. To be able to attack, we have to defend and prevent goals, so when we do that, we can win.
“It’s very encouraging for our goalkeeper to win Woman of The Match and will help her focus more."
Goalkeeper Onyango said the team lost but it motivates her to work harder.
“The match was not easy, but we will learn from it and keep going in the other matches," said Onyango.
“Being Woman of the Match today motivates me to work harder and help my team."
Sundowns next Group B clash will be against Nigeria's Rivers Angels on Tuesday and wrap up their group phase assignments against ASFAR of Morocco next Friday.