Sundowns follow Esperance into CAF Champions League QF

2019-03-10 07:15
Pitso Mosimane
Pitso Mosimane (Gallo Images)

Johannesburg - South African club Mamelodi Sundowns became the second qualifiers for the CAF Champions League quarter-finals by outplaying Nigerian visitors Lobi Stars 3-0 near Pretoria Saturday.

Trophy-holders Esperance were first to book a last-eight place, defeating Horoya of Guinea 2-0 Friday to clinch first place in Group B.

The other six qualifiers will be known next Saturday after the final round of group matches.

Sundowns could not have wished for a better start as Thapelo Morena scored 106 seconds into the first half before a large crowd despite the late-evening kick-off.

Themba Zwane and Lebohang Maboe then netted within a minute close to half-time, leaving the former champions with a three-goal half-time advantage.

Sundowns coasted through the second half, content to retain the big lead and knowing that maximum points would guarantee a top-two finish in Group A and a quarter-finals place.

Lobi were a huge disappointment, failing to show the spirit and defensive organisation that earned them an unexpected draw away to Wydad Casablanca of Morocco in the previous round.

Wydad had hoped to join Sundowns in the last-eight by winning in the Ivory Coast against ASEC Mimosas, a side they trounced 5-2 in the opening matchday two months ago.

But they came unstuck in Abidjan as Amed Toure netted twice to end a five-match personal goal drought, earn ASEC a 2-0 win and keep alive hopes of a last-eight place.

Sundowns have 10 points going into the final series of mini-league matches, Wydad and ASEC seven each and Lobi four.

Should Wydad beat Sundowns in Morocco and ASEC defeat Lobi in Nigeria, there will be a three-way tie on 10 points, but the South Africans are sure of a top-two finish on head-to-head records.

Whatever the outcome, two former champions will advance with Wydad winning the elite African club competition in 1992 and 2017, Sundowns in 2016 and ASEC in 1998.

Meanwhile, JS Saoura, an Algerian club competing in the group phase for the first time, rose from last to first in Group D by overcoming Simba SC of Tanzania 2-0 in Bechar.

Sid Ali Yahia-Cherif scored his third goal of the CAF campaign to put the local side ahead 18 minutes into the match in the western city near the border with Morocco.

Mohamed El Amine Hammia doubled the lead six minutes into the second half and there was no way back for Simba, who won the first match between the clubs 3-0 in Dar es Salaam.

It was the fourth Champions League goal for Hammia, three less than chart-topper Moataz al Mehdi from already-eliminated Libyan club Al Nasr.

Saoura climbed to eight points, record eight-time champions Al Ahly of Egypt and V Club of the Democratic Republic of Congo have seven each and Simba six.

In the final round, Simba have home advantage over Simba and Saoura face the daunting task of playing Ahly away.

Ahly had hopes of sealing a quarter-finals place with a match to spare dashed when a late goal from Congolese teenager Tuisila Kisinda gave V Club a 1-0 victory in Kinshasa.


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