History as Sundowns stun Ahly in Champions League for the first time

Mamelodi Sundowns recorded their first-ever win over Al Ahly in Egypt when they edged out Pitso Mosimane’s side 1-0 in a Caf Champions League Group A game on Saturday night.

Thapelo Morena proved to be a super-sub as the speedster came off to the bench to score the winning goal in a match that saw the PSL champions’ co-head coach Rhulani Mokwena being sent off in the first-half at Cairo International Stadium.

Denis Onyango was a noticeable absentee from the Masandawana’s starting line-up with fellow veteran goalkeeper Kennedy Mweene starting in the absence of the injured Ugandan star. The Tshwane giants were hoping to secure their first-ever away win against Al Ahly.

On the other hand, Percy Tau was named among the substitutes after the former Sundowns star recovered from his injury. The Red Eagles’ head coach Pitso Mosimane was facing his former employers for the third time since he left Masandawana in September 2020.

Al Ahly controlled the game from the first whistle with Sundowns content with sitting back and launching quick counter-attacks through their pacy wide players such as Khuliso Mudau, Lyle Lakay, Bradley Ralani as well as Themba Zwane.

However, the Red Eagles were reduced to long-range shots with the Masandawana’s defence which was marshalled by Kenya international Brian Mandela looking solid and compact. Aliou Dieng had two attempts from a distance which narrowly missed Mweene’s goal-posts.

The hosts upped the tempo with the half-time break approaching and Mokwena was sent off for dissent as he was unhappy with the officiating. Al Ahly were awarded a freekick on the edge of the visitors’ box and Ali Maaloul was superbly denied by Mweene from the set-piece and the score was 0-0 at the interval. 

Mosimane made a change prior to the start of the second-half as he pulled out Taher Mohamed and introduced Tau. However, it was the visitors, who threatened first after the restart as Lyle Lakay beat keeper Mohamed El Shenawy, but the upright came to Al Ahly’s rescue.

The Red Eagles were under pressure with the Brazilians constantly launching attacks and El Shenaway was forced to parry a curling shot from Lakay. Mosimane decided to make another change – replacing the ineffective Mohamed Sherif with Mohamed Magdi Kafsha.

Suddenly Sundowns looked shay at the back and Mweene had to come out and block Ahmed Abdel Kader’s shot from close range. Sundowns co-coach Mangqoba Mngiqthi introduced Thapelo Morena, who replaced Zwane.

Morena proved to be an inspired substitute as the Bafana Bafana international beat El Shenaway with a hard and low shot to hand ASundowns a 1-0 lead in the 85th minute. The visitors were under siege, but Mweene produced a magnificent one-handed save to deny Yasser Ibrahim to ensure that Sundowns emerged 1-0 winners.

The win elevated Masandawana to the top of the group standings and they will now take on  TS Galaxy in a PSL game on March 2. The defeat left Al Ahly placed fourth on the standings, but the defending champions have a game in hand.

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