Defender Anele Ngcongca was the unlikely goal-scorer for Mamelodi Sundowns against Wydad Casablanca on Friday night. Photo: Gavin Barker/BackpagePix

Mamelodi Sundowns will have to try and qualify for the Caf Champions League final the hard way after going down 2-1 to Wydad Casablanca in the first leg of their semi-final in Rabat, Morocco on Friday night.

Salaheddine Saidi put the home side ahead in the 26th minute with a quality finish after Sundowns were put on the back-foot through some quick counter-attack play by the Moroccan club.

However, Sundowns were not to be outdone, and defender Anele Ngcongca – who missed his team’s midweek league win over Chippa United – levelled matters shortly before halftime as he powered home a header.

Wydad restored their lead in the opening minute of the second half, when some unusual lacklustre Sundowns defending allowed the experienced Wydad midfielder Badie Aouk to fire the hosts back in front.

Wydad had ample opportunities to build an even greater first leg advantage, but found Sundowns goalkeeper Denis Onyango in fine form between the posts for the Chloorkop-based side.

Sundowns, who beat Wydad 2-1 in a group match in Tshwane in January, before going down 1-0 in the away leg in March, will have to outscore the Moroccan club at the Lucas Moripe Stadium in Atteridgeville on May 4 if they are to have any hope of progressing to the grand finale of Africa’s prestigious club tournament.

Before then, Sundowns have a tricky away trip to Black Leopards for a league encounter next Sunday.

Sundowns are currently in second spot on the league table, three points behind log-leaders Orlando Pirates, but with a game in hand.

African News Agency (ANA)