By Victor Okoye
Mamelodi Sundowns of South Africa South Africa were on Sunday crowned winners of the 2016 CAF Champions League after a 3-1 aggregate defeat of former champions Zamalek SC of Egypt in Alexandria.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the new champions lost 0-1 in the second leg clash, but they benefitted from a 3-0 first leg advantage earned a week earlier.
It was sufficient to earn South Africa their second club continental title, after Orlando Pirates’ win in 1995, silencing the home crowd at the El Borg Arab Stadium.
It was a lively start to the final clash that saw Zamalek doing a lot of running and piling a lot of pressure on the Mamelodi Sundowns’ defence.
Sundowns were however quite comfortable sitting back and allowing the hosts pile on the pressure, while they relied on counter-attacks.
Goalkeeper Denis Onyango however did well to calm the nerves of his side in the opening minutes of the pulsating encounter.
The Ugandan indeed established himself as one of the best on the continent as he pulled off several vital saves for Sundowns to keep scores goalless in the first 20 minutes.
But relentless pressure by Zamalek saw Onyango being replaced by Wayne Sandilands in the 28th minute after picking up an injury.
Sandilands who was playing arguably the biggest game of his career made some top saves of his own to keep scores 0-0 at the end of the first half.
The second half began like the first as Zamalek had a greater percentage of ball possession, but Sundowns’ defence held firm until about 30 minutes left on the clock.
Sundowns’ defence gave in to Zamalek’s pressure after Nigerian striker Stanley Ohawuchi hammered home a low shot from long range in the 64th minute.
Goalkeeper Sandilands should have done better, with the ball slipping in underneath his gloves.
The Egyptians continued to pile wave after wave of pressure as the game wound down.
The South Africans nevertheless calmly held on for a famous 3-1 aggregate win to be crowned African champions.