Swashbuckling Sundowns secure top spot in Group A
Mamelodi Sundowns went to the top of Group A in the Caf Champions League after a hard fought 3-1 win over Asec Mimosas from Ivory Coast at Loftus on Friday night.
The Brazilians sit on the summit with six points from three matches but they will be overtaken by the winner of the clash between Lobi Stars and Wydad Casablanca who take on each other in Enugu on Saturday afternoon.
The crucial home win was secured through goals by defender Musa Lebusa, highly impressive midfielder Themba Zwane and new striker Emiliano Tade on debut while the visitors got on the score sheet through a penalty by Hamed Diomande.
Though they managed to win this match, Sundowns coach coach Pitso Mosimane will rue the fact that his attackers missed numerous scoring opportunities in the second half where they controlled the game.
These two sides will do it again in a fortnight during the return leg at the Stade Felix Houphouet Boigny in Abidjan where Sundowns will be looking to further improve their chances of qualifying for the semi final stage.
Before they travel to to West Africa, Mosimane will have to deal with a potentially difficult assignment against Black Leopards in the Absa Premiership on Wednesday at home where the mission will be to close the gap on log leaders Bidvest Wits.
Sundowns opened the scoring after nine minutes through the close range header by defender Lebusa who rose above everyone in the box to nod home a well delivered cross by Gaston Sirino.
Lebusa turned the valiant three minutes later when he was judged by Tunisian referee Sadok Selmi to have brought down Christian Angbandji and Hamed Diomande beat Denis Mweene from the spot.
Five minutes after restart, Sundowns missed two glorious opportunities to increase their lead in quick succession when Anthony Laffor was denied by Asec’s goalkeeper Abdoul Karin and Lebohang Maboe’s header bounced off the cross-bar.
The Brazilians got it right after 55 minutes with a beautiful attacking team goal that was started by Sirino who laid the ball to Lyle Lakay on the left flank from where he delivered a low cross to Zwane for his third of the tournament.
Just after the hour mark, the cross bar once again came to the rescue of Asec after Sundowns captain Hlompho Kekana rifled a thunderous free kick from outside the penalty box and Laffor’s shot hit the upright later.
Sundowns new signing Tade secured the three points in referee’s optional time with his first for the Brazilians in his first game.