Champions League group stages remain in Sundowns' sights after tough Cairo outing

Pitso Mosimane and Hlompho Kekana of Mamelodi Sundowns during the Absa Premiership match between Mamelodi Sundowns and Baroka FC at Lucas Moripe Stadium on December 11, 2018 in Pretoria, South Africa.
Pitso Mosimane and Hlompho Kekana of Mamelodi Sundowns during the Absa Premiership match between Mamelodi Sundowns and Baroka FC at Lucas Moripe Stadium on December 11, 2018 in Pretoria, South Africa.
Image: Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Images

Mamelodi Sundowns were held to a 0-0 draw by Libyan side Al Ahly Benghazi in their African Champions League second round‚ first leg‚ tie that was played in Cairo’s Petro Sport Stadium on Sunday.

Sundowns created more than enough chances to win the game and showed plenty of urgency in the closing minutes to try and push for victory‚ but may look at the draw as a satisfactory result against a well-organised opponent.

They have left themselves vulnerable to an away goal for the Libyan outfit in the return leg next Saturday in Pretoria‚ but given their stout defensive display in the Egyptian capital‚ may feel that is a storm they can weather.

Sundowns had an early opportunity when Hlompho Kekana’s through-ball set Phakamani Mahlambi on goal‚ but the young forward put his shot wide.

Kekana then tested the home keeper with a typically fierce effort‚ but Lebohang Maboe failed to capitalize on the rebound as he too missed the target.

Jeremy Brockie then headed narrowly wide and Mahlambi missed again from a good position as Sundowns created good scoring opportunities in the first half.

Al Ahly had their moments though‚ and Rivaldo Coetzee and Mosa Lebusa‚ two former Ajax Cape Town teammates picked in the centre of defence‚ had to be smart on separate occasions to clear promising attacks.

Mahlambi’s pace was a constant danger for the Ahly defence and he combined well with Brockie to create a scoring chance for Kekana‚ but the captain put his shot wide.

Andile Jali’s ball into Gaston Sirino in the box provided a scoring chance for the Uruguayan‚ but his shot on the turn was straight at the keeper.

Mahlambi’s strong run after Sundowns had turned over possession in the midfield saw him create a one-on-one opportunity with the goalkeeper‚ but a heavy touch pushed the ball too close to the gloveman‚ who was able to smother the danger in a final chance for the visitors.

The victor in this tie will advance to the group stages of the Champions League‚ with the ousted side to drop into the African Confederation Cup.

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