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Sundowns, Wydad take slim first leg advantages in AFL

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Mamelodi Sundowns celebrate their goal against Al Ahly. PHOTO/Sundowns/Twitter
Mamelodi Sundowns celebrate their goal against Al Ahly. PHOTO/Sundowns/Twitter
  • Sundowns beat Ahly in Pretoria
  • Wydad also won at home in Casablanca against Esperance
  • The second leg ties are scheduled for this week

South Africa’s Mamelodi Sundowns and Moroccan giants Wydad Athletic Club picked slim first leg advantages in the semi-finals of the African Football League.

Sundowns edged out 11-time African champions Al Ahly 1-0 in Pretoria, while Wydad picked a similar result at home against Esperance of Tunisia.

In Pretoria, Thapelo Maseko scored with a brilliant strike in the 52nd minute as Sundowns edged out Ahly, in a game where they had a myriad scoring opportunities.

This was the 13th match between the two African football giants, and Sundowns ensured their record of never losing at home to the Red Devils continued as they won their fourth match in seven duels in their own turf.

Maseko struck seven minutes after the break, picking up a pass from Aubrey Modiba before firing low past Mohamed Elshenawy in the Ahly goal.

The home side was rewarded after dominating much of the opening exchanges, with good scoring chances especially in the first half. They had some good chances, with Marcello Allende having a freekick from distance go just over, while Rivaldo Coetzee attempted his luck with a shot from range but it skidded just inches off target.

First go at goal for Maseko

Action between Mamelodi Sundowns and Al Ahly. PHOTO/Mamelodi Sundowns/Twitter

Action between Mamelodi Sundowns and Al Ahly. PHOTO/Mamelodi Sundowns/Twitter

Maseko had his first go at goal in the first half when he glanced in a header from a cross, but it was met by a brilliant save from Mohamed Elshenawy.

In the second half, Sundowns started with as much pace and they almost broke the deadlock a few minutes in but Modiba’s shot from 30 yards out was inches wide.

Soon after, Sundowns got their goal. It seemed to have added some power in their boots as they added more attacks and Coetzee came close to doubling their lead when he flicked a corner at the near post but it went agonizingly wide.

The Egyptian number one would make two more brilliant saves to deny Khuliso Mudau and Teboho Mokoena.

Ahly struggled to create many good scoring opportunities in the duel, and will have all to play for when they host the return fixture in Cairo next week.

Meanwhile in Casblanca, Wyadad also had many scoring chances, but could only settle for a 1-0 result at home.

Hicham Boussefiane scored the winning goal in the second half, a teasing cross from the right that went all the way bouncing into the net.

Wydad with a good start 

Wydad c elebrate their goal against Esperance. PHOTO/Wydad/Twitter

Wydad c elebrate their goal against Esperance. PHOTO/Wydad/Twitter

Wydad had a good start to the match, making goal attempts especially from distance. Boussefiane had one such effort from almost 40 yards which caught the keeper off, but could only bounce wide off target.

Ayoub El Amloud should have given Wydad the lead when he was picked out by a brilliant cross from the left, but his header could only bounce on the outside of the upright.

Esperance were better starters in the second half, and the biggest reason they didn’t score was because of keeper Youssef El Motie. The shot stopper made a brilliant save to push away a glancing header from Brazilian forward Rodrigo Rodriguez.

Onuche Ogbelu also came very close for Esperance when he drifted to the edge of the box from the left, but his low shot was inches wide, though El Motie had his goal well-guarded.

But, Wydad eased off all that pressure in the 58th minute when Boussefiane clipped what looked like a cross from the left side, but it missed a surging pool of bodies before dropping into the bottom left corner.

Wydad almost doubled their lead minutes later, but they were denied by the crossbar, Charki El Bahri’s thumping header from a cross coming off the woodwork.

Esperance made late attempts to come back into the game, but Wydad managed to defend their lead well.


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