CAF Champions League: Mamelodi Sundowns oust Young Africans to reach semi-finals

CAF Champions League: Mamelodi Sundowns oust Young Africans to reach semi-finals
Photo by Icon Sport

Mamelodi Sundowns of South Africa defeated Young Africans of Tanzania 3-2 in a penalty shootout to book their place in the 2023/24 CAF Champions League semi-finals.

Following the 0-0 from the first leg in Dar es Salaam last week, the stage was set for genuine excitement around and within the Loftus Versfeld which was painted Yellow by the Masandawana faithfuls.

However, the match didn't turn out as expected as both teams settled for another goalless draw after 90 minutes of football (no extra time).

The visitors once again showcased their defensive prowess–as it was in the first leg–to limit the hosts to little clear-cut chances to send the encounter to penalty shootouts.

But just like in the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations, Bafana Bafana captain Ronwen Williams was once again a penalty shootout hero.

The 32-year-old goalkeeper saved two penalties to hand Rhulani Mokwena’s team the right to appear in the last four of the CAF Champions League for the second successive season.

Mamelodi Sundowns vs Young Africans: The match in review

Masandawana midfielder Thembinkosi Lorch, had the first opportunity in the opening half but was denied at close range by an alert Djigui Diarra in goal for Young Africans.

With both sides failing to create a handful of scoring opportunities, it remained goalless at half-time to send the skirmish to a winner-takes-all clash in the second half.

But as the stakes grew higher and higher for both sides as the resumption of hostilities, it was the Tanzanians who almost took the lead when striker Stephane Aziz Ki’s effort ricocheted off the crossbar and for some time looked to have crossed the line only for VAR to rule it “no goal”.

With the game up for grabs for either side, both coaches rang a couple of changes with Thapelo Maseko coming on for Themba Zwane, and Clement Mzizi coming on for Kennedy Musonda to inject pace into the skirmish as both sides slugged it out for the final twenty minutes.

It became an end to end affair with both sides looking to find the winner and a place in the semi-finals of Africa’s most glamorous club competition at stake. More changes were made by both teams.

The visitors would have another close-range effort from Mzizi go just wide off target in the last ten minutes.

Sundowns themselves had a chance of their own as Neo Maema went just wide as regulation time elapsed.

And in stoppage time, Lucas Ribeiro missed from close range from a bicycle kick to send the game to penalties.

 Mamelodi Sundowns players
Photo by Icon Sport.

How Mamelodi Sundowns won the penalty shootout

Stephane Aziz Ki stepped up to take the first spot-kick for Young Africans but Ronwen Williams kept it out to hand the advantage to Sundowns.

Marcelo Allende walked up and scored Sundowns' first penalty to hand the South Africans a 1-0 lead.

Augustine Okrah gave the visitors a lifeline as he scored from the spot to draw level as Gaston Sirino missed the following spot-kick.

Nonetheless, Williams saved Yanga's third penalty and Lucas Ribeiro scored the third for Sundowns to give the hosts a 2-1 lead!

Joseph Guede Gnadou buried Yanga's fourth penalty to make it 2-2 but Neo Maema shortly made it 3-2 for the hosts.

Young Africans would go on to miss their last kick to all but confirm Masandawana 3-2 winners on the night.

The bigger picture for Mamelodi Sundowns

AFL champions Mamelodi Sundowns
Photo by Icon Sport.

Sundowns will play the aggregate winner between Asec Mimosas of Ivory Coast and Esperance of Tunisia for a place in the finals.

Having won the inaugural African Football League (AFL) earlier this season, the Brazilians are looking to win their second continental trophy this season.

Mokwena's side fell short in the semifinals of this competition last campaign, but they're determined to get it right this time and will do all it takes to achieve their continental dream.

Sundowns last won the CAF Champions League way back in 2016. They're eager to claim their second success in the grandest stage of African club football competition.

This article was most recently revised and updated 1 month ago

Joseph is a graduate engineer turned sports writer, he has covered lots of sports stories, match previews and predictions across various leagues on the planet.