‘It is written in the stars’, head coach Rulani Mokwena told them after they edged out Al Ahly to make it into the final. And now, Mamelodi Sundowns have seen the prophecy of their tactician come true, as they beat Wydad Athletic Club 2-0 in Pretoria on Sunday to clinch the first ever African Football League (AFL) title.
Sundowns trailed 2-1 from the first leg played in Casablanca last weekend, and they ensured they won by a margin of two goals with a clean sheet, to engrave their names in the books of history, becoming the winners of the prestigious first ever AFL.
Peter Shalulile, returning to the team after weeks out with injury scored the first goal in first half stoppage time, while Aubrey Modiba added the second in the second half to seal the title into their hands.
It is the second Continental title for Sundowns, having won the CAF Champions League in 2016, and for Mokwena, it is his first ever continental triumph as coach. In 2016, he was Pitso Mosimane’s assistant as they won the CL and now, the 36 year old tactician has conquered the Continent.
It was never an easy outing for Masandawana against a Wydad side that only needed to avoid defeat to win the title.
The first half was cagy, Wydad playing with a low, compact block, denying Sundowns the spaces to play their usual incisive defense splitting passes.
But all through, backed by a capacity crowd at the Loftus Versfeld Stadium, the Brazilians kept their patience and composure.
They were finally rewarded in the third minute of added time when Shalulile pounced on a rebound after the keeper had spilled a long range shot from Teboho Mokoena. The Namibian forward showed his class, being the first on the spills before clipping the ball over the keeper.
In the second half, the home side were off to a fast paced start and they needed just eight minutes to double their cushion.
A sideways pass in midfield from Wydad was intercepted by Mokoena who raced into the box before chipping over the advancing keeper.
It was the second time that Wydad’s passes in their own final third were being intercepted as just minutes before the goal, Shalulile had run blind side of a defender to pick a backpass, but he had a heavy first touch allowing the keeper to pluck it off his feet.
After going 2-0 down, Wydad had to open up the game as they knew one goal would send the game to penalties while two would win it for them, just like they did in the Champions League semi-finals last season.
However, Sundowns were not ready to let lightning strike them twice as they kept possession, stuck to their shape and were careful with their passing.
They managed to hold on till the final whistle, with the entire stadium erupting in frenzy as they celebrated the massive win and the trophy.