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VIDEO: Sundowns draw first blood in 2016 CAF Champions League final first leg

Photo: Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Images/Getty Images

Photo: Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Images/Getty Images

Sundowns moved to within sight of a first ever continental title after a win over Zamalek in the first leg of the CAF Champions League final, at the Lucas Moripe stadium.

Mamelodi Sundown XI: Onyango; Langerman, Nthethe, Arendse, Mbekile; Kekana, Mabunda, Laffor, Tau, Dolly; Billiat

Zamalek XI: El-Shennawy; Islam Gamal, Ali Gabr, Moruf Yusuf, Ahmed Tawfik; Tarek Hamed, Ibrahim Salah, Shikabala, Ayman Hefny; Stanley Owahuchi, Bassem Morsy

As expected, the home team took initiative and gained control of the match right from the start. Ali Gabr was forced to clear a cross by Langerman for a corner, in the third minute, and Keagan Dolly was allowed to take a shot ten minutes later. But he sent his effort well away from the target.

Mamelodi Sundowns began causing real trouble for Zamalek after the early minutes of sizing each other up. Khama Billiat was especially involved against Zamalek’s make shift fullbacks in creating chances for his teammates and himself. The first close chance of the 2016 CAF Champions League final fell to Percy Tau on eighteen minutes, from Billiat’s cross, but he could not keep his header on target.

Billiat delivered another great ball, four minutes later, but another teammate also failed to keep a header on target. This time it was Nthethe, whose header came even closer.

The visitors got some respite, from Sundowns’ hold on the game, when Ayman Hefny managed to cross a ball that was unmet by any of his side’s attaclers. This missed opportunity was punished immediately as Mamelodi Sundowns broke the deadlock in the 30th minute.

Anthony Laffor got behind Islam Gamal to slide home a nice through ball by, the veteran, Hlompho Kekana. The opening goal of the CAF Champions League final saw the hosts take their foot off the gas.

This allowed a bright moment for Zamalek in the game but the White Knights found it difficult to break a compact Sundowns team.

Shikabala was denied the chance to send a ball into the area while on the other side, Langerman’s cross beat El-Shennawy to make it 2-0 to the home team after 40 minutes.

Zamalek got their closest chance after this goal but even then, Ayman Hefny could not hit the target.

Zamalek conceded a third goal immediately after the restart. Dolly set up Percy Tau whose shot was deflected into the net by Islam Gamal; a defender who was having a nightmare of an afternoon.

Things got worse for the White Knights when, goalkeeper, Ahmed El-Shennawy had to come off because of injury. His place was taken by Mahmoud Gennesh

Both Soliman and Mosimame opted to take off their star players early in the second half; with different expectations in managing the match. Shikabala was substituted for Ramzi Khaled while Billiat came off for Teko Modise. Consequently, the game went a notch down in excitement. The most notable thing being Morsy woeful freekick.

As the first leg of the CAF Champions League final came to a close, Zamalek upped the tempo in their search for an away goal. First, Mostafa Fathi beat his markers before Thabo Nthethe halted his match to a goal then Ibrahim Salah had a rebound shot headed away from the Sundowns goal in the 83rd minute.

Zamalek almost got caught out as they pressed for a goal. Tau was put through for a goal, by Dolly, but Mahmoud Gennesh intercepted the pass. Despite more efforts in the dying minutes, Zamalek could not get that all important away goal.

The 3-0 result leaves Mamelodi Sundowns with the advantage ahead of the second leg of the 2016 CAF Champions League final in a week’s time, in Alexandria.

I have dedicated part of my time in this bad world to following African football. From CECAFA to WAFU, COSAFA to UNAF & even the forgotten UNIFFAC.

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