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It is Sundowns vs Wydad in inaugural AFL final

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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
  • Mamelodi Sundowns beat Al Ahly on aggregate
  • Wydad beat Esperance on penalties
  • The winner of the tournament banks 4mn USD

South African giants Mamelodi Sundowns will take on Morocco’s three-time African champions Wydad Athletic Club in the final of the inaugural African Football League (AFL) after both sides won their respective semi-final duels.

Sundowns edged out record African champions Al Ahly 1-0 on aggregate after a 0-0 draw in the return fixture in Cairo, while Wydad beat Esperance of Tunisia 5-4 on penalties after a 1-1 aggregate draw.

In Cairl, Sundowns did the job right, in a game that they once again finished with 10 men, to make the final.

Goalkeeper Ronwen Williams came off big once again, saving a first half penalty, in a match that Sundowns once again had to finish with 10 men. Junior Mendietta was given his marching orders six minutes from time, but Masandawana held on for the vital draw to book a slot against Wydad Athletic Club in the final.

Ahly came into the tie trailing by a single goal from the first leg, and they needed a win of more than two goals at the Cairo International Stadium to overturn the deficit.

They were handed a massive chance to do so after just eight minutes when keeper Williams was adjudged to have fouled Percy Tau inside the box. The shot stopper however made amends, with a brilliant save to deny Ali Maaloul from the spot.

Ahly keep pushing 

Ahly kept pushing and Sundowns were saved by the woodwork in the 25th minute when Abdelmounaim Boutouil’s clearance was blocked by Mahmoud Kahraba, but the ball came off the post.

In the second half, the home side added more pressure, but they couldn’t find a way to break the resolute Sundowns backline.

Elsewhere in Rades, Wydad qualified for the final on spot kicks. The game was forced to spotkicks after a 1-1 aggregate draw, following Esperance’s 1-0 win in Wednesday night’s return leg.

They had lost by the same margin in the first leg in Casablanca over the weekend.

On penalties, Wydad keeper Youssef El Mottie was the hero, saving one penalty to send Wydad into the final. Esperance had made a goalkeeping change, Moez Ben Chirifia coming off for teen keeper Aman Memmiche for the penalties, but the gamble didn’t work as Wydad scored all their kicks.

Rodriguez scores winner in normal time 

Rodrigo Rodriguez, who had scored the winning goal in normal time, endured a tough end to the game as he saw his penalty saved by El Mottie.

Yassine Merriah had scored Esperances’s first, with Yahya Jebrane responding for Wydad before the Brazilian missed.

Ayoub El Amloud, Amine Aboulfath, Mohamed Ounajem and Bouly Sambou scored the subsequent four for Wydad to win the game. Esperance also scored their last three through Mohamed Derbali, Raed Bouchniba and Mohamed Tougai.

In regulation time, Rodriguez had scored with a brilliant header, connecting from an Oussema Bougerra cross. The forward thought he had scored a late winner, but the goal was chalked off for offside after a VAR review.

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