Mamelodi Sundowns produced a spectacular performance to beat AS Maniema Union at 2-0 Loftus Versfeld Stadium and advance to the CAF Champions League group stages.
The Brazilians started strongly as they looked to impose pressure on their visitors consistently throughout the early stages of the first half. Downs worked well to get the ball forward, playing balls out wide to Namibian striker Peter Shalulile. Themba Zwane was faced with a goal scoring opportunity early on however he was called offside as Masandawana were looking to make their way into Maniema’s final third.
Bafana Ba Style looked comfortable with keeping ball possession and controlling the game. Midfielder Rivaldo Coetzee got in with the action towards the goal as his shot was blocked by Maniema’s defender and gave Downs a free kick outside the box. Left footer Lyle Lakay stepped up to curl the ball into the Congolese goalposts to give Sundowns the lead. It was just a reward for a fine start to the game from Masandawana who were playing with intent and vitality.
Thabiso Kutumela almost grabbed Downs’ second goal in the closing stages of the first half, however his shot went off target as it hit the side net of Maniema. The visitors secured a corner before the half time break but were unfortunate to equalize as Sundowns’ defenders were well aware of the danger.
The Brazilians returned in the second half with full speed in attack, Sibusiso Vilakazi had the chance to extend the lead with an effort which was denied by the goalkeeper. Maniema seemed determined to equalize when Downs lost possession high up the field and broke at pace, however, shot stopper Denis Onyango brilliantly saved the ball and got Masandawana out of danger.
Downs continued to play in the style they are accustomed to when playing at home, dominating the ball and applying relentless pressure. Full back Lakay delivered a cross to the far side of the opponent’s box, and when goalkeeper Brudel Liyongo spilled the ball, it was Peter Shalulile who was on hand to give Bafana ba Style a two goal lead and widen the gap on aggregate.
Shalulile’s goal put Bafana Ba Style in total control and dominance. Maniema was not to be pushed over, the Congolese giants put on a fight with spectacular moments in attack that were close enough to threaten Downs’ dominance. Junior Mutwale of Maniema had his chance to score against Masandawana, however Onyango’s great goalkeeping skills were not to be messed with.
The final third of the second half saw Neo Maema, Pavol Safranko, Kermit Erasmus and Sphelele Mkhulise make their way on to the field as Downs looked to manage the game and secure the desried result. The Brazilians proved that they have multiple ways of winning games as they continued with swift counter-attacks during the second half and were the center of attention.
Mamelodi Sundowns advance to the group stages of the highly anticipated continental football competition with a 4-2 aggregate.