18 February 2017 08:29
Mamelodi Sundowns stamped their authority in African club football after lifting the Total CAF Super Cup following a hard fought 1-0 victory over TP Mazembe at the Loftus Stadium in Pretoria on Saturday. It took Brazilian centre back, Ricardo Nascimento to give the “Brazilians” the victory in the dying minutes of the game after both sides laboured to find the back of the net.
Both teams came into the match with a score to settle after four previous encounters in continental competitions.
It was the home side that made their intentions clear from as early as the opening minute when Themba Zwane’s shot controversially came off the hand off the Joel Kimwaki for the referee to wave play on. This proved to be a wake up call for the visitors who started knitting some good build ups into the Sundowns half in search of the opener.
Mazembe should have grabbed the lead in the 9th minute when Ben Ngita Malongo beat the offside trap to find himself one on one with Sundowns goalie Denis Onyango but saw his shot come off the upright. With the keeper well beaten, the striker should have easily converted but unbelievably struck the woodwork again in front of an empty goal to the disbelief of the travelling supporters.
From then on, the visitors kept on piling the pressure and were almost rewarded when Nathan Sinkala’s same time volley from a Solomon Asante cross went agonizingly over the bar.
In true Mamelodi Sundowns fashion, the home side kept most of the possession but found it difficult to penetrate through the experienced Mazembe back four. Reigning African footballer of the year (based in Africa) Onyango was called to the rescue in the 25th minute when Mechak Elia did well to hold of the Sundowns defense and turned to fire at goal but his shot was comfortably saved by the keeper.
Sylvain Gbhohouo was called to action and denied Zimbabwean sensation, Khama Billiat on the half hour mark after the nippy forward used his pace to burst into the Mazembe goal but was not given a chance to take a shot after the keeper came off his line to clear for a throw in. However, Billiat came asking more questions of the keeper a minute later after skillfully brushing aside two defenders but saw his shot go wide of target.
The home side could have went into the break with the lead after Anthony Laffor came to the fore in the final minute of the opening stanza when his well taken grounder almost went under the keeper who did well to gather the ball to keep things level before the break.
"Les Corbeaux" seemed to have taken their foot off the pedal in the second half and failed to threaten Sundowns. Even with the introduction of trusted forward, Tresor Mputu, the visitors could not put Sundowns on the back foot.
Another chance went a-begging after Laffor again found himself in acres of space in the box but failed to keep his composure and shot his effort well off target just after the hour mark. The Liberian forward had yet another chance to open the scoring in in the 77th minute after brilliant interplay between himself and Percy Tau but his stinging shot was brilliantly saved by Gbhohouo.
With just 10 minutes to go, the match was well headed for the dreaded penalty shootout to decide the winner until a needless tackle from behind by Issama Mpeko on Sundowns anchorman, Hlompo Kekana was pointed to the spot by the referee for Nascimento to give Sundowns the much needed goal.
Sundowns become the second South African club to lift the CAF Super Cup after Orlando Pirate which is accompanied by a $100 000 cash prize.