Namibia: Shalulile Steers Sundowns to Ahly Double

PETER Shalulile (27) inspired Mamelodi Sundowns to a 1-0 victory over CAF Champions League holder Al Ahly with another virtuoso display in Johannesburg on Saturday.

The Brave Warriors captain converted a Lyle Lakay corner on 23 minutes at FNB Stadium to secure Masandawana's passage to the quarter-finals with two group A games to spare.

The win also completed a remarkable double over Al Ahly led by ex-Sundowns mentor Pitso Mosimane, who was left fuming at the final whistle over off-the-pitch issues.

On the pitch he was left exasperated by his Red Eagles defence as Masandawana's livewire on the day, Shalulile, proved a constant menace and left them at sixes and sevens.

Shalulile seamlessly wove into pockets of space which led to him scoring the only goal of the match. When left unmarked in the box, the alert forward guided the ball into the net with his knee mid-way through the first half.

"Double completed and ➕ 3 points in the bag," Shalulile Tweeted after the match.

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The match-winning strike took his tally to 20 goals across 33 club appearances in all competitions for the season, which is just two strikes shy of the 22 goals overall he notched in each of the last two seasons.

He has 22 goals and six assists this season when his two strikes for the Brave Warriors are factored into the equation.

Only five other African players have more goal involvements than Shalulile so far this season. They are Ivorian forward Sebastian Haller of Ajax Amsterdam with 34 goals and nine assists, Liverpool's Egyptian superstar Mohamed Salah (31 goals, 11 assists), Cape Verdean and Partizan Belgrade hitman Ricardo Gomes (27 goals, eight assists); Kenyan export Michael Olunga who plays for Qatari club Al-Duhail (27 goals); with Algeria and Man City's twinkle-toed winger Riyad Mahrez (26 goals, nine assists) completing the top five.

With at least 15 matches left for Sundowns, Shalulile is on course for his best goalscoring return and to hit the 30-goal mark.

On Saturday, his link-up play was a marvel to watch as he created chances for his teammates.

The energetic Namibian international's unpredictable runs into the visitors' box almost yielded a second goal on the day, although he wasn't able to keep his volley down after connecting with another Lakay delivery on 28 minutes.


But Shalulile's heroics were overshadowed by feisty post-match interviews by Mosimane and his former assistant, Manqoba Mngqithi.

Mosimane insinuated that Sundowns were indulging in the dark arts of the game to influence the result, said in a post-match report.

A furious Mosimane lambasted his former side's supporters for obstructing the Al Ahly team bus and forcing it to change route during its passage to the match venue.

"Very dirty. I'll reveal it one day. There's a lot. Too much. The game is played on the pitch. The goal is legitimate, no problem. Thapelo's goal in Cairo was a good goal," he said.

"Why do you do other underhand stuff and all that? It's unbelievable. It's really sad, to be honest, for such a big team," Mosimane said.

Meanwhile, victorious Sundowns co-coach Mngqithi aimed a dig at rivals Kaizer Chiefs after his side secured the crucial win.

According to the Sunday Times, the usually reserved Mngqithi said Saturday's victory was made sweeter because their opponents were not only able to use Chiefs' facilities at Naturena to prepare, but in the match were even given a better change room at FNB, which is normally reserved for Chiefs.

"I think what makes it sweeter for me is beating the collaboration," Mngqithi said of Chiefs allowing Ahly to train at their village ahead of Saturday's crunch match.

"We remember that during the bubble [in matches Downs played against 'home' teams Bidvest Wits and Black Leopards at FNB Stadium in the 2019/20 season] we couldn't use Chiefs' change room. Countrymen couldn't use that change room, but this change room was opened for Al Ahly now against us," he said.

"And for me, winning this match was sweeter because I felt Chiefs was being spiteful by allowing that, because you could have easily taken Al Ahly to that change room that's got a ramp on the other side – that long distance.

"It's our home match, but it's not our home match when they've got the change room of a home team. So that for me was very spiteful, because we almost had the same scenario last season," Mngqithi said.

Artmotion S.Africa

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