Sundowns crash out of CAF Champions League

Hlompho Kekana of Mamelodi Sundowns head the ball while challenge by Wydad players during the CAF Champions League match between Mamelodi Sundowns and Wydad at Lucas Moripe Stadium on May 04, 2019 in Pretoria, South Africa.
Hlompho Kekana of Mamelodi Sundowns head the ball while challenge by Wydad players during the CAF Champions League match between Mamelodi Sundowns and Wydad at Lucas Moripe Stadium on May 04, 2019 in Pretoria, South Africa.
Image: Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Images

Mamelodi Sundowns were knocked out of the Caf Champions League at the semi-final stage by Wydad Casabanca after they were held to a 0-0 draw by the Moroccan giants at Lucas Moripe Stadium on Saturday.

Wydad progress to their second final in three years with a 2-1 aggregate score line and they will meet Esperance, who beat TP Mazembe in the other semi, in the two legged final.

It was disappointment for about 30 000 Sundowns fans who packed this venue to the rafters as their dream of a second final appearance in four seasons went up in smoke.

Sundowns, who have scored an impressive 17 goals at home in the competition this season, failed to get the important one that could have been enough to help them over the line on away goals as Wydad dished out proper defensive football.

The Moroccans, who won this tournament in 2017, are headed for another final against Esperance, who beat TP Mazembe 1-0 on aggregate, while Sundowns will focus on the Absa Premiership where they are chasing Orlando Pirates to defend their league crown.

They return to action on Tuesday night when they host Golden Arrows at Loftus, where they will be playing their 47th match in all competitions this season, and coach Pitso Mosimane will be hoping that they continue to put pressure on Pirates.

Sundowns were the first to settle in the game as they managed to find their way into the Wydad half with Themba Zwane, Gaston Sirino and Thepelo Morena leading most of their early attacks but they yielded nothing.

Wydad sat back, soaked up the pressure and relied on counter attacks and they also resorted to their usual tactics of falling to the ground at the slightest of tackles but Angolan referee Helder Carvalho handled most of the situations very well.

In his starting line-up, Mosimane recalled Ricardo Nascimento, Tiyani Mabunda and Lebohang Maboe after they missed their 3-2 Absa Premiership win away to Black Leopards on Tuesday where he rested them to recover.

Though Sundowns looked good on the attack, their main attacking problem was that the normally reliable skipper Hlompho Kekana was wasteful at times with some of his long range passes which could not find the intended target.

Because of the tense nature of the game, Carvalho dished out three yellow cards in the opening half to Achraf Dari and Yahya Jabrane of Wydad and Ricardo Nascimento of Sundowns as temperatures continued rise.

It was not all about Sundowns on the attack as Wydad had their moments in the game with the likes of Comara Ibrahim, Abdelatyif Noussir and Aymane El Housini troubling Sundowns goalkeeper Denis Onyango on a few occasions.

There was no goal in the opening stanza with most of the action concentrated in the middle of the park.

Sundowns returned from the break with more purpose in their work and they continued where they left off in the opening half by testing Wydad ‘keeper Yassine El Kharroubi who needed medical attention on the hour mark.

El Kharroubi landed awkwardly after he claimed a well taken cross from the left flank that was delivered by Tebogo Langerman in the congested penalty box.

By the 63rd minute, there were still no goals and Mosimane went to plan b by introducing attacking midfielder Sibusiso Vilakazi for full back Anele Ngcongca in a move that was aimed at giving Sundowns more attacking options.

A few minutes later, Mosimane rolled his second dice by introducing Phakamani Mahlmbi for Mabunda hoping that he will take them on with his frightening pace and LLyle Lakay came on for Maboe but he Brazilians could not find the goal.

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