In a thrilling first-leg encounter of the African Football League semi-finals, Mamelodi Sundowns secured a slender 1-0 victory over Al Ahly in Pretoria on Sunday evening.
Former Uganda Cranes captain Denis Onyango was on the bench for this thrilling first-leg encounter of the African Football League semi-finals as Mamelodi Sundowns secured a slender 1-0 victory over Al Ahly in Pretoria on Sunday evening.
The hero of the day was Thapelo Maseko, whose superb strike in the 52nd minute proved to be the difference in this highly anticipated clash.
This match marked the 13th meeting between the two African football powerhouses, and it upheld Sundowns' remarkable record of never losing to the Red Devils on home turf, with this victory being their fourth in seven matches.
Maseko's moment of brilliance came just seven minutes into the second half when he received a well-placed pass from Aubrey Modiba and unleashed a low shot that beat Ahly's goalkeeper, Mohamed Elshenawy.
The home team was rewarded for their dominance in the early exchanges, particularly during the first half.
They created several promising scoring opportunities, with Marcello Allende coming close with a long-range free-kick that narrowly cleared the crossbar. Rivaldo Coetzee also tried his luck from distance, but his shot missed the target by mere inches.
Maseko had a notable chance in the first half when he directed a header towards the goal, only to be denied by a stunning save from Mohamed Elshenawy.
Sundowns carried their momentum into the second half, and they nearly extended their lead early on when Modiba unleashed a powerful shot from 30 yards out that narrowly missed the target.
The breakthrough came shortly after, with Maseko's exquisite finish putting Sundowns ahead. This goal injected even more energy into the home side's play, and Coetzee came close to doubling their lead with a flicked header from a corner that agonizingly went wide.
Mohamed Elshenawy, Ahly's goalkeeper, made two more remarkable saves to deny Khuliso Mudau and Teboho Mokoena, preventing further goals for the South African team.
Al Ahly struggled to create clear scoring opportunities in this encounter and will need to regroup as they prepare to host the return fixture in Cairo next week, with everything to play for in this highly competitive semi-final clash.