Mamelodi Sundowns reached new milestones for South African clubs competing in CAF club competitions on Sunday night with their 2-1 victory away at Zamalek in Cairo.
The win takes Sundowns to the brink of a place in the African Champions League semifinals in the most extraordinary of campaigns for the club that has already seen two of their opponents disqualified from the competition.
The deserved victory for Pitso Mosimane’s side was the first time a South African club has beaten Zamalek away from home‚ with previous opponents Orlando Pirates (twice) and Kaizer Chiefs both suffering defeats.
It is also the first time ever that a Premier Soccer League club has won three Champions League group matches in a row‚ even if their opening win at ES Setif was later removed from this year’s record books after the Algerians were disqualified.
That statistic is made all the more impressive by the fact that two of those wins came in north Africa‚ for decades an unhappy hunting ground for South African clubs.
If Sundowns can beat Zamalek in the return fixture on July 27 they will hold the record for most consecutive wins in all CAF competition group stages‚ which they now share with Orlando Pirates‚ who claimed three pool wins in succession in the Confederation Cup last year.
When Khama Billiat stroked the ball home for Sundowns’ second against Zamalek‚ he also netted his club’s 99th goal in Champions League matches.
They will hope to bring up their century in the return against the Egyptians.
Sundowns’ record in Africa’s elite club competitions has seen them play 61 games‚ winning 34 of those and losing just 12.
They have surpassed Orlando Pirates in this year’s competition as the PSL club with the most wins in the Champions League‚ with The Buccaneers securing 32 from 70 matches.
Next target will be to pass Pirates’ record number of goals‚ which stands at 107.
Incidentally‚ South African clubs as a whole have now conceded 199 goals in the Champions League from their 214 matches played. They have scored 331.
Sundowns have so far utilised their good fortune in this year’s Champions League to maximum effect.
They were re-instated into the group stages when their final preliminary round opponents AS Vita Club from the DR Congo‚ who had beaten Mosimane’s men on the away goals rule‚ were disqualified for fielding an ineligible player.
Sundowns then lost to Ghanaian side Medeama in the Confederation Cup and had thoughts of some winter holidays before the call came from CAF to return to Champions League action.
Were they to go on and win this year’s competition‚ it would be one of the most extraordinary tales ever in African football.
– TMG Digital