Mamelodi Sundowns secured their position in the first-ever CAF African Football League (AFL) final after defeating Egyptian rivals Al Ahly with a 1-0 aggregate scoreline over two legs. Masandawana were pushed all the way by a resilient Red Devils outfit, however the team from Mamelodi remained resolute and got the job done.
Despite no goals in the 90 minutes, the game kicked off at a frantic pace, with the home side showing attacking intent and testing the Masandawana defence at every opportunity. Former Downs star Percy Tau was first to threaten, as he had a header saved by goalkeeper Ronwen Wiliams at the near post.
Tau and Williams would be at the center of the action a few minutes later as the two Bafana Bafana internationals collided in the box, with the referee awarding a penalty to the team in red. After a lengthy delay, Ali Maaloul stepped up to the spot and saw his penalty saved by the heroic Williams – who was making is second AFL penalty save.
After the high-paced start to the match, it was the away side who began to show a bit of control, as they strung together passes and looked to move up the field. Uruguayan forward Gaston Sirino had an attempt at goal saved by Egyptian shot-stopper Mohamed El-Shenawy.
At the other end of the pitch The Brazilians faced a scare as confusion in the box lead to Adbelmounaim Boutouil unknowingly making a goal line save, before Grant Kekana cleared away. The away side remained solid and went into the break on level terms on the night.
The second half saw Bongani Zungu introduced into the fray in place of Mothobi Mvala, who picked up a booking in the first half.
Al Ahly would up the ante in attack and look to push on, but were met by a dogged Ka Bo Yellow side at every attempt. The second half saw fewer chances than the first, but both sides essentially nullifying one another in pursuit of a place in the showpiece final.
The biggest flashpoint in the second 45 came when Argentine substitute Junior Mendieta was shown a straight red card for a tackle deemed high by the referee, reducing Sundowns to 10 men for the last 5 minutes plus additional time.
Williams was called into action one final time as he claimed the long range shot that came in from the edge of the box.
Downs would hold on through a lengthy 7 minutes of added time to see out the result and claim a spot in the inaugural AFL finals against Moroccan foes Wydad Casablanca. The spectacle final will take place over two legs, with the first leg commencing on Sunday 5 November and the second leg culminating on the 11th of November.
How we lined up: Williams, Mudau, Coetzee, Kekana, Mvala, Boutouil, Allende, Modiba, Zwane, Sirino, Maseko
Subs: D. Onyango, De Reuck, Lebusa, B, Onyango, Nku, Zungu, Mashego, Mendieta, Mkhulise, Mabena, Maema, Maboe