Mamelodi Sundowns have secured a CAF Champions League quarterfinal spot. The Brazilians were held to a one-all draw by Sudanese side Al Hilal in their fifth round of the group stages on Saturday.
The South African side tops the group with 11 points, followed by Al Hilal on ten points. Egyptian giants Al Ahly, who kept their campaign alive with a win over Coton Sport of Cameroon on Friday, occupy third position in the group.
Sundowns have become a consistent outfit on the continent. It is a fifth straight quarterfinal qualification for the club in the CAF competition.
Although they couldn’t claim all three points away from home, they will welcome the outcome. They came into the match after an overwhelming 5-2 victory over Al Ahly in Pretoria. That result raised expectations against Al Hilal, but the Sudanese side was not to be overpowered.
“Good team regardless of who ever plays but we could have won the game and it’s a pity we didn’t, so we have to go again to improve and make the team better,” says Sundowns coach Rulanin Mokwena.
The Brazilians had been dominant against Al Hilal in the last five fixtures. Florent Ibenge’s charges were eager to end their losing streak against the South Africans.
It was the home side that had more opportunities to score in the first half and take a comfortable lead at the break. But Sundowns goalkeeper Ronwan Williams kept his side in the game.
The visitors had their fair share of attempts in the first half but the real threat came early in the second. It was a sign that they were now itching for a goal which eventually came in the 67th minute.
Defender Khuliso Mudau scored from a rebound to give his side the lead. But soon after he was involved in a blunder together with Williams which gifted the hosts the equaliser with under 20 minutes remaining.
Mohamed Abdelrahman capitalised from close range. The home side had an opportunity to grab their first win over Sundowns when they were handed a penalty in the closing stages.
Williams redeemed himself when he saved an Ather El Tahir attempt to keep the score level.