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Sundowns made to work for a point if held to a draw by El Merreikh



If you’d watched the first half of Mamelodi Sundowns’ second Café Champions League Group A game and couldn’t come back for the second, you’d be forgiven for thinking the Tshwane giants would take an easy win.

This is after Masandawana starred in the first half of their match against Sudan’s El Merreikh on Saturday afternoon at Al Salam Stadium in Cairo, Egypt.

Sundowns were quick out of the blocks and could have been leading 2-0 within the first 10 minutes, but lacked sharpness up front. Sundowns did indeed have the ball in the net, but Erwin Saavedra found himself in an offside position before passing the ball for Peter Shaluile.

As the match progressed, El Merreikh found a foothold and found space behind the Masandawana defence.

They should have taken the lead in the 26th minute but were denied by Brian Onyango who saved the ball on the line while his namesake Denis had already been beaten.

With just over 35 minutes of play, Sundowns was forced to make substitutions when Saavedra had to disappear injured. This was after a collision with El Merreikh defender Mohammed Mustafa. Thabiso Kutumela took his place.

Tony Edjomariegwe was unlucky to see his bet go just wide and wide, while Onyango was defeated just before half-time.

El Merreikh came from a better team for the second half and did not give Sundowns the freedom on the ball they enjoyed in the first half. Edjomariegwe had the ball into the back of the net in the 59th minute with a solid attack in the Sundowns box, but he was marked offside and the goal didn’t count.

Sundowns survived a nerve-racking end with El Merreikh throwing everything at them in the closing stages.

The draw is a good result for Sundowns who are still the leader in the group with four points. Al Ahly, El Merreikh and Al Hilal are all behind them with one point each. However, Al Ahly and El Merreikh have a game on their hands.

Sundowns’ next game is on Friday, also in Cairo, against Al Ahly of their former coach Pitso Mosimane.

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