Mamelodi Sundowns triumph in African Champions League

Players of South Africa’s Mamelodi Sundown celebrate with the trophy after winning CAF African Champions League. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh
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ALEXANDRIA (Reuters) – Mamelodi Sundowns became only the second South African club to win the African Champions League, holding on for a 3-1 aggregate triumph over Egyptian team Zamalek despite losing the second leg of the final on Sunday.

A goal from Stanley Ohawuchi after 64 minutes gave Zamalek a 1-0 win in front of 70,000 at the Borg El Arab Stadium but it was not enough to overturn a 3-0 deficit from last Saturday’s first leg. Sundowns’ success in Africa’s top club competition comes 21 years after Soweto club Orlando Pirates became the first South African team to take the title. It completes a dramatic comeback for the Pretoria-based Sundowns after they had been eliminated in the last of the preliminary rounds of the Champions League earlier this year.

They were then given a reprieve with a place in the group phase after Vita Club, of the Democratic Republic of Congo, were found to have used a suspended player and were banned from the competition by the Confederation of African Football.

Zamalek mounted all-out attack in their bid to overhaul the three-goal deficit, a feat only once previously achieved in the 50-year history of the tournament.

Yet Sundowns offered a stout defensive performance and threatened a few times on the counter-attack as they reached the break at 0-0.

Nigerian Ohawuchi’s shot from outside the penalty area in the 62nd minute handed the Egyptians some hope and they took complete control of the last half-hour, launching wave after wave of attack.

Soumahoro Bangaly cleared off the line from Zamalek substitute Emmanuel Mayuka, the former Southampton striker, in the last 10 minutes and there were other narrow escapes for Sundowns.

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The new champions will now play in December’s Club World Cup in Japan.

(Reporting by Mark Gleeson in Johannesburg; Editing by Ian Chadband)


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