Sundowns backdoor African champions

2016-10-25 09:00
Mamelodi Sundowns (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - It is a truism widely accepted not to take anything for granted "until the fat lady sings."
Well, insofar as PSL champions Mamelodi Sundowns' fortunes in the 2016 CAF Champions League were concerned, The Fat Lady had already crooned a conclusive tune of doom, gloom and failure.

The Brazilians had not only been eliminated from Africa's premier club event as early as the last 16 stage when going down to the DRC's As Vita, but then when as a consequence demoted to CAF's second tier Confederation Cup they had gone down to modest Ghanaian club Medeama at the first time of asking and failed in this instance to make the last eight of this event as well.

It was then that fate, laced with a slice of most excruciatingly good fortune for Sundowns entered the proceedings as CAF announced that AS Vita were to be expelled from the Champions League for fielding  an ineligible player - not against The Brazilians, mind you, but from their previous match, nogal!

The outcome? The Fat Lady had almost miraculously lost her voice and Sundowns were back in the Champions League with a bang as a result of CAF's out-of-the-blue decree and on their way to glory via the backdoor…

The rest, of course, is local soccer history, with Sundowns on Sunday becoming only the second South African team along with Orlando Pirates and among 24 others on the African continent to annex the Champions League title after completing a 3-1 aggregate win over Egypt's Zamalek in the two-leg final despite losing the second-leg 1-0 at the cavernous, highly-charged Alexandra Stadium.

No one can dispute that good fortune has indeed favoured the brave in this instance, with Sundowns hungrily grabbing their uncanny good luck the second time around and performing like true champions to not only become continental club top dogs, but also qualify for FIFA's World Club Championships in Japan in December while performing in a manner deserving of this accolade.

If there is a down-turn to what is undoubtedly a memorable triumph on the part of Sundowns it is that in typical South African sporting fashion - when both successes and failures are exaggerated beyond intelligent belief - officials of one kind and another who should know better are going overboard and making pronouncements of grandeur that are beyond adult belief.

Let's not forget that  Egypt's Al Ahly have been African Champions League winners on eight occasions, TP Mazembe five times and currently-in-the-doldrums Zamalek five times as well.

Let's see what Sundowns achieve in the World Club Championships before proclaiming them as world-beaters.

Meanwhile, in keeping with the assessment that someone up there likes them, Sundowns have been blessed with a favourable draw for the pinnacle club event in Japan, with a bye in the opening round, a game against either New Zealand's Auckland City or a local team in the quarter-finals and the knowledge that they would only come face-to-face with European icons Real Madrid if they reached the final.


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