Downs survive Yanga scare

By Michael Madyira

Ronwen Williams reproduced his 2023 Africa Cup of Nations penalty shootout heroics to help Mamelodi Sundowns advance to the Caf Champions League semi-finals on Friday evening.

The Brazilians had been frustrated with a 0-0 quarter-final, second-leg draw by visiting Young Africans at Loftus Versfeld.

The first leg also ended 0-0 in Dar es Salaam, leaving penalties to decide matters with Masandawana winning 3-2.

Sundowns goalkeeper Williams saved two kicks to have a huge say in the shootout.

The Brazilians surprisingly missed defender Mothobi Mvala, leaving Grant Kekana to partner Divine Lunga in a makeshift combination at the heart of the defence.

The Tanzanian visitors had coach Miguel Gamondi make a slight change from the first leg by benching Clement Mzize while starting Ivorian forward Joseph Guede.

It was a first half with no clear-cut chances and Young Africans’ first opportunity came on the half-hour mark when Guede’s grounder went just wide.

On 36 minutes, Lunga almost turned the ball past his own goalkeeper Williams while trying to clear a Guede low cross from the left side.

Play quickly switched to the other end where Thembinkosi Lorch came face to face with Djigui Diarra and the Young Africans goalkeeper stretched his legs to block a low shot by the former Orlando Pirates man.

Masandawana survived a scary moment just before the hour mark when Burkinabe forward Aziz Ki’s banger appeared to have hit the crossbar before crossing the line.

But Mauritanian referee Dahane Beida waved no goal after an anxious moment of waiting for the outcome of his consultation with the video assistant referee.

Substitute Gaston Sirino forced an impressive save from Diara with 15 minutes to go.

Yanga had started slicing through the Sundowns defence and Mzize could not believe himself after failing to connect a Ki cross with only Williams to beat.

With a minute to go, substitute Neo Maema had a stinging shot going just wide while Lucas Ribeiro Costa miscued an acrobatic kick in stoppage time before the contest headed for the lottery kicks.

Sundowns now wait to meet, in the semi-finals, the winner between Esperance and Asec Mimosas who meet in another last-eight fixture.

Pictured above: Mamelodi Sundowns midfielder Marcelo Allende tussles for possession against Young Africans’ Mudathir Yahya.

Image source: Mamelodi Sundowns


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