Sundowns still unbeaten in Caf Champions League after draw against Al-Hilal
CAPE TOWN – Mamelodi Sundowns remained unbeaten in the 2021 Caf Champions League after a goalless draw with Sudan's Al-Hilal in a Group B match at the Al-Hilal Stadium, in Omdurman, Sudan, on Saturday afternoon.
The outcome was of no consequence to Sundowns since they had already won Group B after four rounds. They won four matches on the trot and were in an unassailable position with 12 points. With this haul, they had already qualified for the quarterfinal round.
The match venue was of some importance to Sundowns since many of their players were in action there a few days ago when Sudan shocked Bafana Bafana with a 2-0 win. As a result, Bafana Bafana ended up on the Afcon also-rans scrapheap instead of qualifying for Cameroon 2022, and coach Molefi Ntseki was given the boot.
Sundowns fielded a team that included several second-stringers, and it showed in the opening 20 minutes of play when Al-Hilal made all the running and held the upper hand.
During this passage of play, Al-Hilal had four shots at goal, and Sundowns goalkeeper Richard Goss was forced to save as many times.
By the end of the opening half, Al-Hilal had enjoyed 10 shots at goal despite a meagre 34% possession. In comparison, Sundowns had four shots at goal, and none were on target.
Sundowns added to the pressure spell created by hosts Al-Hilal by trying to play too much football in their half, and inside their penalty area as well. They were occasionally dispossessed when Al-Hilal made timely interceptions.
When the second half resumed, Al-Hilal started dictating play, and that was the state of affairs for the rest of the match. Al-Hilal forced five corners in this half, and this reflected their grip on the match during his passage of play.
However, they failed to capitalise on their scoring opportunities as they contained by a Sundowns team that were unyielding in defence.
Two minutes into added injury time, Zambian referee Janny Sikazwe awarded Al Hilal a free-kick, plumb in front and just outside Sundowns' penalty area. The set-piece kick flew high over the crossbar to ensure the match ended goalless.