Mamelodi Sundowns secured a hard-fought 1-0 win over Al Hilal Omdurman in their CAF Champions League Group A match at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Phokeng near Rustenburg on Friday evening.
The win saw Masandawana start their Group A campaign with a narrow win, while the Blue Wave of Sudan were left to rue their missed chances after losing to the 2016 CAF Champions League winners.
It took only eight minutes for Masandawana to break the deadlock after they pressed the Blue Wave and forced the visitors into committing a mistake in their own half.
Themba Zwane pounced onto Walieldin Khedr’s poor back pass in Al Hilal’s half and the accomplished playmaker fired past onrushing goalkeeper Ali Abu Eshrein to hand Sundowns a 1-0 lead.
The Blue Wave then surged forward as they looked to level matters with Mohamed Abdelrahman looking lively for the visitors, but the away side was left vulnerable at the back.
Thapelo Morena, who had replaced an injured Gaston Sirino, was sent through on goal only to be denied a shooting chance by Mohamed Ahmed’s last-ditch tackle and Sundowns were leading a-1-0 at half time.
The Blue Wave saw most of the ball after the restart, but the North African side was either let down by indecisiveness or poor finishing in front of goal without seriously testing keeper Denis Onyango.
Masandawana looked dangerous every time they pushed forward and they were awarded a free-kick in a promising area. Lyle Lakay stepped up and forced Abu Eshrein into a great save from the set-piece.
The momentum was with the visitors in the closing stages of the match as Ibrahim Mustapha forced Onyango into a low save. Zwane then made a crucial goal-line clearance from Khedr’s header which was goal-bound.
Sundowns were able to contain Al Hilal in the dying minutes of the game and ultimately the reigning DStv Premiership champions emerged 1-0 winners on the night.
Sundowns (1) 1 (Zwane 8′)
Al Hilal (0) 0
Sundowns: D. Onyango, Mudau, Lakay, B. Onyango, De Reuck, Coetzee, Jali, Sirino (Morena 26′), Zwane (Mokoena 90’+4), Safranko (Saavedra 90’+2), Shalulile (Mvala 90’+2).
Al Hilal XI: Abu-Eshrein, Abdalla, Ouattara, Khedr, Wadah, Ahmed, Ajagun, Mustapha, Mugadam (Mozamil 73′), Abdelrahman, Phiri Jr.