Sundowns see off Wydad to become inaugural AFL champions

Sundowns see off Wydad to become inaugural AFL champions
Sundowns players celebrates lifting the trophy during the African Football League 2023 Final match between Mamelodi Sundowns and Waydad at the Loftus Stadium, Pretoria on the 12 November 2023 ©Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

South African side Mamelodi Sundowns were crowned the first-ever African Football League (AFL) champions after a 2-0 second-leg victory over Wydad Casablanca sealed a 3-2 aggregate triumph.

Sundowns went into the home leg trailing 2-1 but turned the tie around thanks to goals from Peter Shalulile and Aubrey Modiba at a raucous Loftus Versfeld Stadium in Pretoria.

The hosts started slowly as Wydad disrupted their rhythm through intensive pressing and fouls.

But Sundowns’ persistence paid off when Shalulile pounced on the rebound after Youssef El Motie parried Teboho Mokoena’s shot in first-half stoppage time.

Five minutes after the break, Modiba intercepted a wayward pass before racing through to double Sundowns’ advantage.

With Wydad now needing two goals to win the final, Sundowns cleverly slowed the game down. Multiple players took intentional yellow cards for time-wasting in the tense finale.

Wydad almost set up a grandstand finish when Ayoub El Amloud headed narrowly over with nine minutes left.

But Sundowns held firm to complete an aggregate victory that makes them the first AFL winners after the new club competition was launched this season.

Coach Rulani Mokwena masterminded a tactical plan that overcame Wydad’s early pressure before ruthlessly capitalising on errors.

The triumph caps a historic continental triumph for Sundowns who have now become the first champions of the new African Football League (AFL).

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