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Not even Cassper Nyovest could save Mamelodi Sundowns’ from CAF Champions League exit

Mamelodi Sundowns’ Peter Shalulile cuts a frustrated figure during their CAF Champions League quarter-final tie against Petro de Luanda. Picture: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

Mamelodi Sundowns’ Peter Shalulile cuts a frustrated figure during their CAF Champions League quarter-final tie against Petro de Luanda. Picture: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

Published Apr 23, 2022


Johannesburg - Mamelodi Sundowns’ run in the CAF Champions League came to an abrupt end after they were bundled out at the quarter-final stage by Petro de Luanda following their 1-1 draw in the second leg at the FNB Stadium on Saturday night.

Petro won the tie 3-2 on aggregate after their victory 2-1 win in the first leg.

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Sundowns’ route to the final of the Champions had looked clear until that surprise defeat to Petro on Angola. They had completed the group stage with a 100% record and the most points across the four groups (16).

It was a huge task to get back in the tie and needed more than just training, analysis and motivation. The Brazilians mobilised their 12th man across Gauteng, while they went as far as opening up their training session to the public on Thursday morning.

The numbers that turned out at the Calabash were far from the 50% capacity, but they still rallied behind their team from start as Sundowns haven’t looked this good to win another star since their win in 2016.

Sundowns started the match at a high tempo. And that yielded chances for their frontmen, especially Shalulile. However, the Namibian, whose national flag was hoisted in the stands, missed a great chance to put his side ahead early on.

Themba Zwane intercepted a clearance by goalkeeper Wellington Gomes before teeing up Shalulile, who turned his marker before blasting his efforts into the stands.

Sundowns continued to exert the pressure, with Neo Maema hitting a thunderous strike over the crossbar just outside the box.

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But on the stroke of halftime, during a moment of confusion, referee Bamlak Tessema Weyesa was called on by supporters to use the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) system.

The supporters got their wish, as Wayesa jogged to the monitor for the first time, resulting in Sundowns being awarded a penalty. Zwane stepped up, but he rattled his shot against the upright before Petro cleared their lines.

Sundowns threw in the self-claimed ‘Abuti Fill Up’, Hip Hop artist Cassper Nyovest, at halftime to revive the Sundowns’ faithful who were slowly becoming deflated as they had 45 minutes to find the lead and a win.

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Their prayers were answered in the 49th minute as Brian Onyango chipped in with the goal, slotting home a rebound from Gomes following a well-struck Lyle Lakay freekick.

It looked like the Brazilians' bubble was burst shotrly after as Petro equalised. However, after consulting with the monitor again, Wayesa judged that Sundowns goalkeeper Denis Onyango was fouled.

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But just as Sundowns thought they were home and dry, another VAR decision that needed the eyes of Wayesa, saw the Angolans get a penalty after Andile Jali was adjudged for a foul inside the box.

Tiago Azulao took the resultant penalty and sent Onyango the wrong way. From thereon, deafening silence engulfed the Calabash as Sundowns’ chances of reaching the last-four looked diminished.

The Brazilians continued to huff and puff, but that was not enough for them to reach the next round of the competition.