Pretoria, (SA): South African giants Mamelodi Sundowns secured their place in the annals of African football after defeating Wydad Casablanca to be crowned the first-ever champions of the African Football League (AFL).
The Sundowns orchestrated a remarkable 2-0 comeback in the second leg against Wydad AC, sealing a 3-2 aggregate triumph in the thrilling final held at the Loftus Versfeld Stadium in Pretoria, South Africa.
The home leg began with Sundowns trailing 2-1, facing an uphill battle against a formidable Wydad side.
However, the raucous atmosphere at Loftus Versfeld Stadium fueled Sundowns’ determination.
Goals from Peter Shalulile and Aubrey Modiba turned the tide, showcasing the team’s resilience and offensive prowess.
Wydad, relentless in disrupting Sundowns’ rhythm through intensive pressing and fouls, initially slowed the hosts.
Yet, Sundowns’ persistence paid off as Shalulile capitalized on a rebound, following Youssef El Motie’s parry of Teboho Mokoena’s shot in first-half stoppage time.
The momentum continued for Sundowns after the break, with Modiba intercepting a wayward pass and sprinting through to double their advantage just five minutes into the second half.
Leading 3-2 on aggregate and with Wydad needing two goals to win, Sundowns displayed tactical acumen.
In a strategic move, multiple players intentionally took yellow cards for time-wasting in the tense final moments.
Wydad, seeking a grandstand finish, came close when Ayoub El Amloud narrowly headed over with nine minutes left.
However, Sundowns held firm, completing an aggregate victory that established them as the inaugural AFL champions in the league’s debut season.
Coach Rulani Mokwena’s masterful tactics played a pivotal role in overcoming Wydad’s early pressure and capitalizing ruthlessly on defensive errors.
The triumph marks a historic continental achievement for Mamelodi Sundowns, solidifying their status as the first champions of the new African Football League (AFL).
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