All hail the continent’s super club! Mamelodi Sundowns are not only African champions, but super champions! The Brazilians added the CAF Super Cup trophy to the Champions League they won last year. In the process, they proved that whatever Orlando Pirates can do, they can also do.
They are now the only two South African sides with both trophies. Pirates won this trophy back in 1996 after winning the Champions League in 1995.
But the Brazilians made an easy game look difficult – they should have wrapped it up long before they were awarded a dubious penalty late in the game.
On the balance of play, the Brazilians deserved the victory as they had all the statistics going their way – ball possession, corner kicks and shots at goals. But they did not need any favours from the match officials to win the game after they were awarded a soft-soft penalty in the 82nd minute – a home-town decision of some sort – after Egyptian referee Gehad Grisha adjudged Hlompho Kekana to have been brought down in the box.
It was a dubious decision to say the least, but, in football, the referee’s decision is final.
Ricardo Nascimento did the rest from the spot kick to give Sundowns the lead – and the winning goal.
It was a game worthy of a super cup final between these two continental giants – and it was entertaining too. Nothing separated the two sides going into the halftime break, but the supporters could not have asked for more as both sides gave their all and had chances to break the deadlock.
The visitors had a glorious chance to take an early lead, but Ben Malango saw his efforts bounce off the upright twice in the space of a few seconds.
Then it was Sundowns all the way in the opening stanza, but their efforts did not trouble Mazembe goalkeeper Sylvain Gbohouo.
Anthony Laffor was a constant menace in the visitors’ defence as he kept them on the back foot throughout the game, but his team-mates let him down with indecisiveness in front of goal. The Liberian international was a live wire and made a superb showing.
He could have capped his brilliant performance with a goal, but was denied by Gbohouo, who pulled off a superb save just before Downs were awarded a penalty.
But Mazembe were no pushovers and gave their all, showing no signs of being rusty despite the fact that their league has yet to begin.
Malango was always a threat to Sundowns’ rearguard, but lacked support from his team-mates, who were too late in joining him in the attacks.
But the night belonged to Sundowns, who pocketed the R1.3 million prize.
The CAF team of the year, together with the coach of the year – Pitso Mosimane – and player of the year based in Africa Denis Onyango were deserving winners.
Now they can turn their focus to the domestic league, where they are way behind in terms of fixtures.
CHAMPIONS Mamelodi Sundowns players and staff celebrate with the CAF Super Cup trophy after beating TP Mazembe 1-0 at Loftus last night