Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Africa: Jwaneng Galaxy – the Giant Slayers of African Club Football

Upon the conclusion of the group stages draw last month in Johannesburg, fans of the African game had almost concluded who would advance to the knockout stages of the tournament – purely based on club pedigree and experience on the continent.

Match Day 1 of the group stages concluded on Sunday and with most clubs securing home victories as expected. However, there was a result that sent shockwaves across the continent as Botswana’s Jwaneng Galaxy stunned former champions, Wydad Athletic Club 1-0 in their own backyard.

The north versus south tie between two clubs was a fixture of clubs with distinctly contrasting experiences on the continent.

Wydad AC – founded in 86 years ago in 1937 with 22 League titles, three CAF Champions League gold medals as well as a TotalEnergies CAF Super Cup title were certainly touted as favourites against Galaxy a side that was founded in 2014 and only making their second group stage appearance in the competition.

While the Botswanan side were rightfully viewed as the underdogs, alarm bells could have been rung when looking at their journey to the group stages.

Enroute to securing a place in the group stages, Galaxy triumphed over Uganda’s Vipers SC before doing the unthinkable in sinking Orlando Pirates in the 2nd Preliminary Round of qualifiers – an achievement that sees them secure a place in the competition’s group stages along with Wydad, Simba AC as well as Asec Mimosas.

Led by coach Morena Ramoreboli, a South African-born coach that is gradually earning respect across the continent, Galaxy on paper may be viewed as the underdogs but on the field of play, they have certainly proved that they too can hold their own against any African side.