Mamelodi Sundowns reach African Champions League final

Mamelodi Sundowns
Mamelodi Sundowns

Mamelodi Sundowns of South Africa made it through to the 2016 African Champions League final, beating Zesco United of Zambia 2-0 in the second leg of their semi-final in Pretoria to advance 3-2 on aggregate.

Sundowns had to overturn a first leg deficit against the Zambians, having lost 2-1 in Ndola last weekend.

The victory completes a big turnaround for the South Africans in Africa's elite club competition, having faced elimination five months ago - only to be reinstated.

In only the second Champions League semi-final between two Southern Africa clubs, the hosts opened the scoring after just five minutes with Liberian winger Anthony Laffor putting Sundowns 1-0 up on the night, to make the scores level overall.

Zesco had chances to equalise, notably when two-goal first-leg star Jackson Mwanza broke through the middle only to see a lob over Ugandan goalkeeper Denis Onyango land on the roof of the net.

If it had stayed at 2-2 on aggregate, the South Africans would have progressed to the final courtesy of their away-goal from the first leg.

However, they made sure of an overall win after Percy Tau headed in on 64 minutes to make it 2-0 to Sundowns on the night and 3-2 on aggregate.

It is the second time Mamelodi Sundowns have reached the final of the African Champions League, having finished as runners-up to Al Ahly of Egypt in 2001.

Sundowns made the most of their second chance after they were knocked out in the final qualifying round for the group stage by AS Vita Club of the Democratic Republic of Congo in April.

But just hours before the group draw was made in Cairo, the Kinshasa outfit were kicked out of the competition for fielding a suspended player.

Reinstated Sundowns rode their luck to top a group including Zamalek and Enyimba of Nigeria.

The fourth team, Entente Setif of Algeria, were banned after crowd trouble in their opening group game.

Many Sundowns players had to hastily cancel holidays as the start of the Champions League group phase coincided with the South African close season.

Coach Pitso Mosimane, a former national team striker, scrapped plans to watch the centenary edition of the Copa America tournament in the United States.

Sundowns will now play the winners of the second semi-final which kicked off later on Saturday in Rabat.

Wydad Casablanca hosted Zamalek of Egypt, with Zamalek leading 4-0 from the first leg.

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