Mamelodi Sundowns were knocked out of the CAF Champions League after the team drew 1-1 with Egyptian side Al Ahly at the Lucas Moripe Stadium on Saturday afternoon. This meeting was the sixth overall in the last three campaigns between the two sides and yet again produced a thrilling encounter with a place in the semi-finals at stake. Ultimately, it was the reigning champions of the competition who progressed with a 3-1 aggregate score line in their favour.
Reflecting on the tie, Coach Manqoba Mngqithi acknowledged that conceding an early – scored by Yasser Ibrahim – made the challenge of overcoming their first leg deficit even harder: “We knew it was not going to be easy, but I think we also made it a little bit more difficult by conceding from that set-piece.”
“We tried very hard to push them, they were sitting with a very low block which we tried to break down. Unfortunately when we conceded from that corner kick and I think we did not do very well in our zones.”
Despite going a goal down, The Brazilians displayed immense fighting spirit on the day and were able claw a goal back through Mosa Lebusa. Downs thought they had taken the lead with twenty minutes to play before Peter Shalulile’s strike was ruled out by the referee’s whistle.
Coach Manqoba was impressed by the way his charges performed on the day and could not take anything away from the character they showed: “We did expect that if they score we might be expected to dig a little bit deeper, and we tried. I can not falter the players, they gave it their best shot, but on the day with everything that we tried we could not get the desired outcomes. But this is how a Champions League match will always be, you can give it so much but at times it can be difficult to penetrate such a low block.”
“We did what we had to do on the day, but unfortunately whatever we did was not enough to win the match.”
The result sees Sundowns exit the continental competition and the team will be looking to end their domestic season on a high with four remaining games in the DStv Premiership.