Sundowns suffer early Champions League set back with another draw

22 May 2018 - 20:37
By Mark Gleeson
Mamelodi Sundowns players celebrate a goal.
Image: BackpagePix Mamelodi Sundowns players celebrate a goal.

Khama Billiat’s last game for Mamelodi Sundowns delivered a valedictory goal but not a victory as they were held to a 2-2 draw away in Guinea by hosts Horoya in their African Champions League tie.

Sundowns came from a goal down to go 2-1 ahead but then a defensive error, near the end of the game, cost them a three point haul.

They now have two points in Group C, behind Horoya and holders Wydad Casablanca of Morocco, who have four points each.

But Sundowns’ next two games are home and away to AS Port Lome of Togo, who are seemingly the whipping boys of the group, and so they have a chance to catapult themselves up the standings and into contention for a quarter-final place.

Of course, it would have been a lot more comfortable had they held onto their 2-1 lead after Billiat equalised in the 69th minute and Gaston Sirino then converted a penalty 10 minutes later.

But more of the poor defending seen in the recent games against Wydad and Barcelona was on display at the September 28th Stadium in Conakry, allowing vital points to slip as Horoya equalised just seven minutes from the end.

Horoya had taken the lead after 51 minutes through Burkina Faso import Mandela Ocansey, who first hit the crossbar two minutes earlier before tucking away a smart square pass.

Sundowns looked flat up until then but suddenly sparked to life after the hour mark with a series of clever balls over the back of the Horoya defence.

It led to the equaliser which saw Percy Tau set up Billiat for a goal in his last game in a Sundowns shirt. He is leaving at the end of the month having refused a contract extension offer.

Billiat was then taken out by a vicious tackle by Horoya goalkeeper Khadim Ndiaye 10 minutes later, after running clear onto another ball over the back of the home defence. Sirino stepped up to put Sundowns 2-1 up.

But they were caught ball watching some four minutes later at a corner and allowed defender Aboubacar Camara to equalise with a well controlled header.

Sundowns carved out an early chance to take the lead as Sirino put in an inviting square ball but Khama could not get a touch onto the ball in only the second minute.

But it was as much as the Premier Soccer League champions could muster in the first half as the hot and sticky conditions and extraordinarily bumpy pitch made it hard for Pitso Mosimane’s team to settle.

The coach played with Billiat upfront but Percy had to track back and help in the midfield as Horoya passed the ball around with some aplomb, and got behind the visiting defence with a few inviting balls.

In the 20th minute Daouda Camara missed a good chance and seven minutes later Razak Brimah, in for the injured Denis Onyango in the Sundowns’ goals, made a good save from fellow Ghanaian Sebe Baffour.

Five minutes after that the Sundowns defence was exposed by an inviting square ball that Horoya failed to get a decisive finishing touch onto.

Just before the break, Ocansey could have also scored by his effort was well blocked by right back Anele Ngconcga.

Four goals in a busy second half came as conditions were less taxing on the players but Sundowns must see this as an opportunity lost rather than a vital away point gained.