For the second time in history, AS Mandé will compete in the CAF Women’s Champions League, and if their journey to qualification is anything to go by, a lot can be expected of the Mali side.
CAFOnline had a sit down with AS Mande star, Fatou Dembele to get her thoughts on the competition and their journey to Cote d’Ivoire.
AS Mandé was the first team to obtain qualification for the CAF Women’s Champions League, Cote d’Ivoire 2023. How was your preparation?
It went wonderfully well. We were able to fill in our gaps and settle the final details before embarking on this tournament. The whole club supports us in this new adventure and it encourages us to give the best of ourselves. This preparation also happened in a fun manner, the team is united and ready to take up this new challenge.
Kick off is almost here, how are you feeling ahead of kick off?
The group’s state of mind is at the top. For the first game, we will seek a victory to enter the competition well.
AS Mandé is in Group B with AS Far, Ampem Darkoa and Huracanes. What are your impressions of this group?
It’s a difficult group but our qualification for the semi-final is very much in our hands. There is AS Far who are the reigning African champions. We believe in ourselves and we will do everything to keep our ship afloat.
What are AS Mande’s ambitions in this tournament?
The first step is to get out of this group phase to go to the semi-finals. We want to make a name for ourselves and win as many matches as possible. Our main goal is to get to the final and win the cup.
How would you describe AS Mande’s style of play?
It’s a very tactical approach we have. We like to have possession, we don’t practice just clear the ball forward but enjoying having possession. From the goalkeeper right up to the striker, each of us know how to circulate the ball.
What does this CAF Women’s Champions League mean to you?
It’s a prestigious competition. A tournament that highlights local talent in the women’s game and gives value to female footballers who play on the continent.
Fatou, when did you know that football was going to be part of your life?
I’d say at the beginning of 2016. The decision was made when I returned from Abidjan where I was a basketball player. I was licensed to the Abidjan Sports Club but my passion for football was greater so I decided to devote myself to it.
So you know Cote d’Ivoire quite well?
Yes, it’s part of my life. I’m happy to come back to play in the CAF Women’s Champions League. I love being here in Côte d’Ivoire, it’s a country that is truly hospitable and very welcoming.