Downs See Off TP Mazembe to Finish Top of the Group

Mamelodi Sundowns have finished as the CAF Champions League Group A winners following their 1-0 triumph over DR Congo side TP Mazembe on Saturday afternoon at Lucas Moripe Stadium.

Even though both teams went to this encounter already qualified for the quarterfinals, Coach Rulani’s dream to finish the group stages round on top of the table came true, all thanks to Peter Shalulile’s penalty kick that saw the Pretoria-based side collect the maximum points.

The first half, which kicked off when the sun was still scorching hot, started off sluggishly, with both sides having a slow start to the encounter. There were a few chances created by Bafana Ba Style in the early minutes, which could have seen them break the deadlock before the halftime break, but they were not capitalising.

It is only after the water break which was taken on the half-hour mark where a more lively Sundowns side was witnessed. The pace started to pick up and Coach Rulani’s men were starting to break the Mazembe defence line.

Eventually, a foul on Lucas Ribeiro in the 18-area box before the break, which prompted the referee to point to the spot. It was Peter Shalulile who raised his hand and took the penalty kick which saw The Ravens’ goalkeeper flying the opposite direction and Shalulile scoring the crucial goal, which ultimately became the decider on who finishes on top of the Group A table.

Despite the numerous attempts in the second half, the hosts could not capitalise on their dominant possession and kill of the game by doubling their lead. They however were able to walk away with maximum points.

Addressing the members of the media at the post-match press conference, the Masandawana head coach lauded his side for the resilience they displayed throughout what was a difficult group stages round.

“Congratulations to the Club, players, technical and team as a whole. I think we had a difficult group on the draw when it came out initially but I think we have done very well to finish on top of a very difficult group. We bounced back after the patch in between with the results against Pyramids FC and TP Mazembe but we showed good mentality to bounce back and get positive results,” he said.

The Brazilians’ coach highlighted why his side felt it was important to win the encounter against TP Mazembe and finishing the group stages round on top, despite having qualified for the quarterfinals after winning against FC Noaudhibou.

“We stressed the importance of winning this game especially because there was a little bit of a bitter taste left after we lost against TP Mazembe away from home in the first leg, and maybe undeservedly because I thought we really played well in Lubumbashi. We played very well today, we had so much control. A performance like that needed one or two more goals but today’s performance was spotless,” he confidently stated.

I was really happy, not necessarily with the results – because I think a performance like that deserves maybe a bigger scoreline – but the control, personality, aggression, counterpressures and passes. The players played with bravery, courage and we took a lot of big risks when we needed to and that’s how big teams must play. I’m very proud of the players for finishing on top which was very important. It ticks a lot of boxes, it gives us points for the Club World Cup, it gives us confidence going to the knockout round and it also makes sure that we continue to do what we are doing which is to try winning every game that we play,” he continued.

How we lined up: Williams, Mdunyelwa, Kekana, Lebusa Boutouil, Mokoena, Maboe Allende, Zwane ©, Ribeiro, Shalulile.

Subs: D. Onyango, B. Onyango, Lorch, Mashego, Aubaas, Mendieta, Morena, Matthews, Esquivel.

1 Response
  1. Ronnie Bothma

    Not a fluid game from us….but a good game nevertheless….Allende was good….Maboe too….what about Zwane….this guy plays like he’s 25….unbelievable. good performance from the team as a whole.