Mamelodi Sundowns produced a spectacular performance to beat Al Ahly SC 1 – 0 at the FNB Stadium and remain in the top spot in the CAF Champions League Group A table.
It was an eagerly anticipated match-up between two of Africa’s most gifted and exciting sides with end to end action from the beginning until the end. Masandawana had three changes from the previous squad in Cairo, Mothobi Mvala, Haashim Domingo and Thapelo Morena were all recalled to the starting lineup.
Mvala was the first to take a chance at goal, the midfielder tested Mohamed El Shenawy of Egypt with a low shot, but his efforts were not a threat to the Egyptians. It was tough going in the early stages, with a well-organised defense line from both teams.
With Ahly determined in defence and working in midfield, space was hard to come by and on a couple of occasions, Bafana Ba Style looked dangerous when attacking from the wing. Themba Zwane and Lyle Lakay played passed the ball around Ahly’s box to penetrate the wall, eventually finding Mvala who took a shot at goal, this time more resolute in his attempt, but the ball took a deflection on Yasser Ibrahim.
The Brazilians eventually broke the deadlock from the resultant corner as Peter Shalulile guided Lakay’s corner with his knee at the back post. Lakay was involved in action again shortly after the lead by Masandawana, the left footer was persistent in fighting for the ball outside the visitors’ 18 area yard, which he eventually put in a cross to Shalulile whose first time shot went up into the sky.
Ali Maaloul had the chance to equalize for the Egyptians, curling the ball in towards Kennedy Mweene, who was hardly tested this far. Other goal scoring opportunities came and went for the The Red Devils, but they were not given much time on the ball and space to go forward with intent. The first half encounter went into the break with Masandawana leading by 1 – 0.
Downs made an immediate substitution when they returned from the break, Aubrey Modiba replaced Khuliso Mudau who showed signs of discomfort as the first 45 minutes reached its conclusion. The second half was a much more open affair, the visitors began to find gaps and create opportunities, however it was the Tshwane giants who were knocking on the Egyptians’ door with almost relentless pressure, and even came the closest to goal with Lakay’s long range shot.
Masandawana went close again with Domingo in a goal scoring position but it was too late to put a good shot together for the 26-year-old. With build up from the back, Mshishi and Modiba charged forth in attack, finding Namibian international, Shalulile who laid the ball for Domingo to extend Downs lead, but The Red Devils were spared.
Maaloul almost grabbed an equalizer for Ahly in the closing stages, the Tunisian international put a cross in towards Hossam Hassan waiting to bury the opportunity, but saved superbly Mweene.
As the game entered the final stages, there was a feeling Masandawana could regret so many missed chances as Ahly carved their own chances to find an equalizer– but the team in yellow stood firm to claim a vital victory. It means Bafana Ba Style have won back-to-back CAF Champions League games against Al Ahly for the first time in history.
This is how we lined up:
- Mweene , L. Lakay, B. Onyango, R. De Reuck, A. Jali © (66′ Mokwena), H. Domingo (66′ Safranko), M. Mvala, K. Mudau (45′ Modiba), T. Zwane (82′ Kekana), T. Morena, P. Shalulile (89′ Kutumela)
- Pieterse, T. Kutumela, A. Modiba, T. Mokwena, G. Kekana, L. Kapinga, L. Maboe, B. Ralani, P. Safranko