Mamelodi Sundowns defeated Egyptian rivals Zamalek 3-1 on aggregate in the final of the CAF Champions League despite a 1-0 loss at the Borg El Arab Stadium in Alexandria on Sunday evening’s second leg, thanks to a 3-0 victory in Pretoria a week earlier.
The win means that Sundowns become the first South African club since Orlando Pirates in 1995 to win the CAF Champions League.
Nigerian Stanley Ohawuchi scored the only goal in the second leg, but his strike for Zamalek was cancelled out by Sundowns’ superb first leg as Anthony Laffor, Tebogo Langerman and an own goal by Islam Gamal made it 3-0 in that encounter.
The victory is a point of pride for South African football, and this was evident in the fact that local rivals on the domestic scene such as Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs professed their support for the Brazilians ahead of the encounter.
Sundowns will now go on to represent Africa at the Club World Cup in Japan this December, and the continental victory will likely mean that the CAF African Player of the Year Based in Africa award will now go to one of the Pretoria-club’s five nominees on the 25-man shortlist.
The five Sundowns players announced recently amongst the nominees for the individual award include Khama Billiat, Keagan Dolly, Denis Onyango, Hlompho Kekana and Yannick Zakri.
The accolade could easily go to skillful Zimbabwean Billiat for his efforts up front on behalf of Masandawana. The 26-year-old has been in fantastic form for his PSL club on the continental stage, while also contributing to Zimbabwe’s first AFCON qualification since 2006.
Team-mate and goalkeeper Onyango could also be in with a good chance of receiving the recognition from CAF, as he was instrumental in his club’s successful title-charge on the continent, while he also played his part in qualifying Uganda for the Africa Cup of Nations (Gabon 2017) for the first time since 1978.