News from South Africa Mamelodi Sundowns: Masandawana Get Off To Winning Start In Champions League Group B

Mamelodi Sundowns earned victory in their first match of the CAF Champions League group stages of the season as they brushed aside AL Hilal 1-0 at Loftus Versfeld Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

The DStv Premiership Champions outclassed their visitors throughout the encounter and grabbed an early foothold as 21-year old Cassius Mailula opened the scoring mid-way through the first half. Mailula capitalized on Hilal’s mistake when the ball left the goalkeeper’s hands, the pacey forward tapped the ball into the net past Ali Eshrein.

Masandawana displayed top-quality performance from the first whistle, as early as 5 minutes into the match, Teboho Mokoena brilliantly stopped Hilal’s attempt at goal when the ball was played into the box.  Bafana Bafana international goalie Ronwen Williams was also tested early in the action, an incoming shot on target made way inside the box, but Williams was alert to make the save.

The battle between the two sides intensified as both teams looked for an early goal to settle into the game, the dazzling moves from Marcelo Allende and Sphelele Mkhulise in passing between the defenders pushed The Brazilians towards goal. Mailula received a well a well aimed pass from Allende but he was unfortunate to find the right finishing. After 15 minutes of play and showing grit in home ground, Mothobi Mvala was involved in a mean-looking battle that caused for him to receive treatment for his head injury and shortly returned to the field.

Mkhulise and Allende had a couple of opportunities as Masandawana continued to push for an opener, Mkhulise forced a save from Eshrein when he put his strike on target. Marcelo’s attempt was blocked by the bodies of the men in blue and white, but determined to score for Bafana Ba Style, the Chile international got at the end of the ball again and fired over the goalposts.

Shortly as the clock hit 25 minutes, Mailula took a superb rebound ball in the box to give Downs the lead and scored his forth Champions League goal this season. The Sudanese team showed to have a response to the attack four minutes later when they managed to get into Masandawana’s box but their efforts were denied by Williams.

Bafana Ba Style soon regrouped and took control of the game, Neo Maema’s long pass at the half hour spot cut through the defenders as Peter Shalulile got ready to take on the goalkeeper but the linesman put his flag up for offside. Maema was then fouled five minutes later by Walieldin Khedr a few meters away from the arch, Aubrey Modiba took the responsibility and struck his effort against the bodies of Hilal as the ball defected and Shalulile tried to finish it off but the ball went out.

As half-time was approaching, Ibrahim Imoro found the chance to deliver in a cross into the box, Mohamed Yagoub came in running to finish off the ball but missed the opportunity to equalize. Masandawana narrowly extended the lead at the brink of half time, Mokoena moved the ball from the center to Maema who then found Shalulile upfront who was unfortunate to shoot with his weak foot on target. Sundowns headed into the tunnel with a 1-0 lead over Al Hilal.

The Brazilians exerted early pressure on The Blues when the second half resumed, Allende and Mkhulise went unstoppable as they charged forward towards the defenders and set up Mailula with a pass. Mailula chipped his shot over the last line of defenders but had his effort blocked by Hilal’s Ousmane Diouf. Mailula thought he had made it two soon afterwards with a lovely shot over the keeper, but it was disallowed as the offside flag went up.

With 55 minutes played and the visitors trying their luck to find an equalizer, Downs were still the better side after the break and the Sudanese began to foul the men in yellow t-shirts. Allende was brought down as he was heading into the box, Mokoena’s free kick went on target forcing the goalkeeper to push the ball out. A couple minutes went by with Masandawana rotating the ball and putting Hilal under pressure, but no goal resulted from their efforts and eventually the visitors got hold of the ball.

A corner kick was awarded to the Blues afrer Mvala blocked out a threatening strike from Yasir El Tayeb on the side of the goalposts. Williams made a save from the corner kick and Masandawana were back in charge. With 10 minutes left to play, Downs made their first changes to the line up, Thapelo Morena and Gift Motupa were the first pair to come and Shalulile together with Mkhulise went off. Bongsni Zungu also came on for Mailula in the encounter.

Mamelodi Sundowns will be back in action on 17, February when they travel to Cameroon to lock horns with Coton Sport in the CAF Champions League.  

This is how we lined up:

Williams, Mvala, Mudau, Kekana, Modiba, Mailula (88′ Kutumela), Maema, Allende (88′ Zungu), Mokoena, Mkhulise(80′ Morena), Shalulile (81′ Motupa).


Pieterse, Lebusa, Ngobeni, Morena, Jali, Kutumela, Zungu, Motupa, Ralani.