Sundowns bow out of Caf Champions League as Wydad win on aggregate
Mamelodi Sundowns fail to get the crucial goal they craved
For about 30,000 Mamelodi Sundowns fans who packed this Atteridgeville venue to the rafters, it ended with red wine on the carpet, smashed plates on the floor and that nagging feeling of what might have been.
The pain of being eliminated from the Caf Champions League at the penultimate stage must have also been felt by thousands of Brazilians fans around the country as their dream of a second final appearance in four seasons went up in smoke.
Sundowns could not overturn the 2-1 loss suffered in Rabat last weekend.
Sundowns, who have scored an impressive 17 goals at home in the competition this season, failed to get the important one to help them over the line on away goals as Wydad dished out proper defensive football.
The Moroccans, who won this tournament in 2017, are headed for another final against Esperance, who beat TP Mazembe 1-0 on aggregate. Sundowns will focus on the Absa Premiership in which they are chasing Orlando Pirates to defend their crown.They return to action on Tuesday when they host Golden Arrows at Loftus, where they will be playing their 47th match in all competitions this season, and coach Pitso Mosimane will be hoping that they continue to put pressure on Pirates.Sundowns were first to settle in the game as they found their way into the Wydad half with Themba Zwane, Gaston Sirino and Thepelo Morena leading their early attacks.Wydad sat back, soaked up the pressure and relied on counterattacks and they also resorted to their usual tactics of falling at the slightest tackle but Angolan referee Helder Carvalho handled the situations well.In his starting line-up, Mosimane recalled Ricardo Nascimento, Tiyani Mabunda and Lebohang Maboe after they missed their 3-2 Absa Premiership win away to Black Leopards on Tuesday when he rested them.
Though Sundowns looked good on the attack, their main problem was that the normally reliable skipper Hlompho Kekana was wasteful at times with some of his long-range passes which could not find the target.
Because of the tense nature of the game, Carvalho dished out three yellow cards in the opening half to Achraf Dari and Yahya Jabrane of Wydad and Ricardo Nascimento of Sundowns as temperatures continued to rise.
It was not all about Sundowns on the attack as Wydad had their moments in the game with the likes of Comara Ibrahim, Abdelatyif Noussir and Aymane El Housini troubling Sundowns goalkeeper Denis Onyango on a few occasions.
In the first half most of the action was concentrated in the middle of the park.
Sundowns returned from the break with more purpose to their work and they continued where they left off in the opening half by testing Wydad goalkeeper Yassine El Kharroubi, who needed medical attention on the hour mark.
El Kharroubi landed awkwardly after he claimed a well-taken cross from the left flank that was delivered by Tebogo Langerman in the congested penalty box.
In the 63rd minute Mosimane went to Plan B by introducing attacking midfielder Sibusiso Vilakazi for fullback Anele Ngcongca in a move that was aimed at giving Sundowns more attacking options.
A few minutes later Mosimane rolled his dice again by introducing Phakamani Mahlambi for Mabunda hoping that he would take them on with his frightening pace and Lyle Lakay came on for Maboe but the Brazilians could not find the goal that they craved.