Sundowns, Petro closer to semi-finals after away draws

AFP , Saturday 30 Mar 2024

Mamelodi Sundowns of South Africa and Petro Luanda of Angola confirmed their status as favourites to win CAF Champions League quarter-finals with 0-0 first-leg away draws on Saturday.

Young Africans vs Mamelodi Sundowns
Young Africans' midfielder Kennedy Musonda is fighting Sundowns’ defender Khuliso Mudau for the ball during the first leg of the CAF Champions League quarterfinals on Saturday, 30, March. Photo: Courtesy of Young Africans’ official X account.


The manner in which the clubs achieved parity differed, however, with former title-holders Sundowns comfortably containing knockout-stage debutants Young Africans of Tanzania.

Petro, whose best Champions League showing was reaching the 2022 semi-finals, had a much tougher time, surviving constant pressure to hold TP Mazembe from the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The matches also differed in style as Young Africans and Sundowns often operated at near walking pace with the heat and humidity in the Indian Ocean city of Dar es Salaam a factor.

Mazembe constantly attacked at speed, using the wings to good effect on a big pitch in the southern mining city of Lubumbashi, but were let down by poor finishing.

The quarter-finals cried out for clinical forwards with the first three producing just one goal, scored by title-holders Ahly of Egypt against Simba of Tanzania in Dar es Salaam on Friday.

Despite boasting a line-up stacked with South African and South American stars, Sundowns hit the target with just two of 10 goal attempts, and neither troubled Mali goalkeeper Djigui Diarra.

When Young Africans opted for route-one attacks down the middle they caused a few anxious moments for Sundowns, with Zambian Kennedy Musonda prominent in front of a 60,000 crowd.

Argentine coach Miguel Gamondi introduced Ivorian Joseph Gnadou and Ghanaian Augustine Okrah in an effort to break the deadlock and give the Tanzanians an aggregate advantage, but to no avail.

Deep in added time, Sundowns were awarded a free-kick just outside the area, but captain and set-piece specialist Teboho Mokoena fired over.

Mazembe, five-time African champions but strugglers in recent seasons, had 28 goal attempts against Petro, but only four on target to the dismay of a capacity 18,000 crowd.

In keeping a seventh consecutive Champions League clean sheet, Petro were thankful to 38-year-old goalkeeper Hugo Marques and the wastefulness of their rivals.

Marques brilliantly pushed away a close-range shot from 18-year-old Oscar Kabwit Tshikomb early in the first half.

Introduced at half-time, Malian Cheick Fofana spurned a great chance for Mazembe midway through the second half, firing over after getting behind the defence.

Sundowns face Young Africans in Pretoria on April 5 and Petro meet Mazembe in Luanda the following day.

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