Sundowns suffer first defeat in African Football League

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Mamelodi Sundowns suffered their first defeat in the inaugural African Football League. The South Africans went down 2-1 to Moroccan giants Wydad Casablanca in the first leg of the final in Casablanca. The two goals were also the first Sundowns conceded in the competition.

Sundowns and Wydad have created a fierce rivalry in recent seasons where they have often met in the CAF Champions League. Six months ago, the two clubs clashed in the Champions League semi-finals, with the Moroccan club winning on the away goal rule. In May, the two clubs played to a goalless draw in Casablanca, before Wydad scored two away goals in Pretoria, in a match that ended 2-all.

Last night, Sundowns were unlucky to concede with an own goal by Rivaldo Coetzee, four minutes before the break. The visitors enjoyed more ball possession in the second half as they went in search of an equaliser. Sundowns were then awarded a penalty in the 74th minute after a handball in the danger area.  The Brazilians’ Moroccan defender, Abdelmounaim Boutouil, broke the hearts of the local fans when he scored the equaliser from the penalty spot.

But, Anas Serrhat scored the winner for the home side four minutes later. According to Sundowns coach, Rhulani Mokena, they will bank on the away goal they scored ahead of Sunday’s second-leg encounter at Loftus Versfeld Stadium in Pretoria.

“Let me just first say congratulations to Wydad on the win, it’s only half-time let me also congratulate my players for their incredible effort and fighting spirit to come back and really try very hard. Our attack was not as potent and aggressive but OK we take the away a goal and we move. Two good teams, very difficult, we will do our best. We have to win in Pretoria and we will do our best to win.”

CAF Women’s Champions League

Meanwhile, the Mamelodi Sundowns Ladies team started its CAF Women’s Champions League campaign on a winning note. The 2021 Women’s Champions League winners beat debutantes, JKT Queens, 2-nil to go top of Group A.

Sundowns scored a goal in each half, with the first coming from defender, Lebohang Ramalepe, four minutes before the break. Refilwe Tholakele doubled Sundowns’ lead 15 minutes before regulation time.

Sundowns Ladies coach, Jerry Tshabalala, says they had to rely on their fitness levels to overpower their opponents.

“Look first half I think they managed to match us pound for pound but I think in terms of fitness level, that’s where we managed to outplay them. When you look at their second half, they sat back. I think they looked a little bit tired, I think that’s what made a huge difference between the two teams.”

Sundowns are top of Group A with three points, followed by Athletico Abidjan and Sporting Casablanca in second and third places respectively, both on a single point following their 1-all draws in the opening round of the tournament.

The Queens are bottom of the group. Sundowns’ next group match is against Sporting Casablanca on Wednesday before meeting Athletico Abidjan on Saturday.