Downs qualify for CAF CL group stage

CAF Champions League

Mamelodi Sundowns defeated Maniema Union 2-0 on Sunday afternoon to secure a spot in the CAF Champions League group stages.

Sundowns made four changes from the narrow win over Golden Arrows, as they recalled Themba Zwane, Rivaldo Coetzee, Lyle Lakay and Grant Kekana.

The Brazilians were on the front foot in the opening exchanges and they came very close to going ahead in the seventh minute after Peter Shalulile's header from a corner was cleared off the goal-line.

Maniema were offering resistance after that and it took a sublime free-kick from Lakay to break the deadlock for the hosts midway through the first stanza to put the hosts 3-2 ahead on aggregate.

With Sundowns pinning the Congolese side in their own half in the closing phase of the first stanza, Thabiso Kutumela had a big chance to double their lead just before the half-time break after rounding Maniema goalkeeper to go through on goal on the left side of the box but he hit the side-netting. 

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The visitors forced a save out of shot-stopper Denis Onyango early in the second stanza, but their goalkeeper made a costly error eight minutes inside the second stanza after spilling a cross by Lakay and he was punished by Shalulile, who toe-poked the ball home on the goal-line.

Masandawana were dropping deep in their own half after getting a two-goal cushion and Maniema nearly pulled a goal back in the last 18 minutes after their overlapping left wing-back went through on goal but his looping strike hit the side-netting.

Sundowns made a double attacking change in the last quarter of an hour, as Kermit Erasmus replaced Kutumela for fresh legs upfront and Neo Maema came on for Shalulile, in a tactical tweak.

The Brazilians were comfortable in the dying minutes and managed to keep a cleansheet, as they booked their spot in the group stages while Maniema will have a second chance in the CAF Confederation Cup play-off round.

Confirmed line-ups:

Sundowns: D.Onyango, Coetzee, Lakay, Lebusa, Mudau, G. Kekana, Jali, Vilakazi, Kuutumela, Zwane, Shalulile.

Subs: Pieterse, Mkhulise, B.Onyango, Safranko, Maema, Morena, Erasmus, Modiba, Domingo.

Usuthu book CAF CL group stage spot