Our writer takes an in-depth look at the CAF Champions League final between Zamalek and Sundowns.
After a superb first leg showing in Pretoria, Mamelodi Sundowns travel to Alexandria in Egypt, to finish what they started against Zamalek, beating the White Knights 3-0. Pitso Mosimane’s side dominated for much of the game and could have even finished off as 4-0 or 5-0 victors.
Despite a world-class performance from Sundowns at the Lucas Moripe Stadium, the tie is still not out of reach for Zamalek. However, the Egyptians failed to score an away goal and could find it difficult to stop a rampant Downs team. The clean sheet in Atteridgeville will give Sundowns a great shot at finishing off the job and becoming only the second South African side to win the continent’s greatest club prize.
CAF Champions League | Sunday 23 October | Borg El Arab Stadium | 20:30
To Win (90 mins)
Zamalek 9/10 | Draw 51/20 | Sundowns 11/4
Egyptian heavyweights, Zamalek, will look for a turnaround performance against Sundowns after a treacherous first leg display in South Africa. They’ll be back in Alexandria, where they have been ruthless at times this season.
Zamalek must hate Pitso Mosimane’s team, who have beaten them for the third time in a row this campaign. Moamen Soliman will have his work cut out for him, hoping to avoid the embarrassment of four consecutive defeats to the Brazilians. Soliman, who stated prior to the first leg tie that he would resign if Sundowns clinched the Champions League title, admitted that things didn’t go the way they planned after Downs took the lead.
"We started the game very good, then the first goal came and the game changed," said Soliman. "I lost control to be honest, the spectators were very loud so my players couldn't hear me - after all."
"I have confidence in my players and I promise you will find a different team in Egypt, we have to move on. We will give them a tough game in Egypt," Soliman continued.
The White Knights come into this game with a 3-0 deficit, but home advantage could play a key role in overcoming that defeat. In their last CAF Champions League home game, Zamalek beat Wydad Casablanca 4-0, and will need another performance like that if they are to be crowned kings of Africa.
Another difficult challenge for Zamalek will be to stop Sundowns from scoring. If Soliman’s side had to concede, they would need to win by a 5-1 margin at the very least – sounds impossible, I know. Their first leg in South Africa was nothing to brag about, but just how well will Zamalek respond?
Fans of the beautiful game will be eager to see; with the White Knights getting the backing of their beloved supporters, along with the very few Sundowns haters in South Africa.
Mamelodi Sundowns come into their second leg of the CAF Champions League final in cruise control, as they hammered the Egyptian giants down to the ground with a 3-0 defeat. Third time was certainly a charm after Pitso’s side claimed their third successive victory over Zamalek in the tournament.
The job is far from over, though, and Sundowns will need to be fully-concentrated in their quest to be crowned champions of Africa. The South African champions dismantled the Egyptians after goals from Anthony Laffor, Tebogo Langerman and an Eslam Hamed own goal.
Laffor proved many doubters wrong with his performance. The Liberian forward was ruthless in attack and opened the scoring with a well-taken strike. Although they take a good lead to Egypt for the second leg, Mosimane admitted that he did not expect such a commanding performance from his players.
Pitso said after the match: "What an emotional game. I don't think we should complain when we score two goals in the first half. "I think we got what we wanted - to score the goals, and go to Alexandria with at least something in your pocket. Not to go and fight for a goal there. "
"For us as coaches - I think the coach of Zamalek will say the same thing - these teams know each other so well. Okay, I didn't predict the scoreline. But the way they play, and the way we play, we know each other well."
Downs were back to their brilliant best after many doubted the Chloorkop-based side after their 3-0 drubbing against Bidvest Wits a fortnight ago. Sundowns showed that they are capable of taking on the biggest and the best on their day and should prove a joy to watch in the Champions League final.
From Denis Onyango to Khama Billiat, the Brazilians have a star-studded side worthy of being crowned champions. Club-captain Hlompho Kekana led by example with another masterpiece showing in midfield. Downs will be without Wayne Arendse due to suspension, but have an abundance of key players likely to fill that void.
Verdict: Sundowns Win + Draw (15/20)
With already one step closer to winning their first ever CAF Champions League trophy, Sundowns are loaded with confidence. Pitso’s charges won on their last trip to Egypt, beating Zamalek by a 2-1 scoreline.
If Sundowns were to score, it could be all over for Zamalek, who will need to win by four goals to be crowned champions. All that said, I cannot see the South African champions going down. Back Sundowns to make history and claim their first ever CAF Champions League trophy. Downs on the Win/Draw is the tip at 15/20.
Written by Jesse Nagel @Hollywoodbets