SA side progresses to Caf group stages
Reigning African champions Mamelodi Sundowns progressed to the Caf Champions League group stages after edging Ugandan side KCCA 3-2 on aggregate at the Phillip Omondi Stadium in Kampala on Saturday.
Liberian forward Anthony Laffor scored a screamer in the 80th minute to cancel out Geoffrey Sserunkuma’s goal in the first half, sending Pitso Mosimane’s side to the next level as they seek to defend their title.
Sserunkuma had opened the scoring at the half-hour mark when he got to the end of a Brian Majwega cross from the left flank past goalkeeper Wayne Sandilands to give the home side a deserved lead.
Majwega forced a great save from Sandilands in the 13th minute as Sundowns sought to settle after the substitution of Yannick Zakri who was stretchered off with an injury and replaced by Ivorian defender Soumahoro Bangaly four minutes earlier.
Sundowns captain Kekana Hlompho attempted a longrange effort from the centre but goalkeeper Benjamin Ochan punched it over the bar.
The lead gave the home side confidence going forward.
However, two changes at the beginning of the second half halted KCCA’s attack as Majwega was forced to the right flank rather than the left where he was lethal.
Mosimane brought in Laffor for Anele Ngcongca and the former got off to a lightning start, combining with Percy Tau and Hlompho to trouble the KCCA defence.
The pressure eventually paid off when Laffor scored with 10 minutes left to play in regular time and the visitors held on to force a 1-1 draw that helped them progress to the group stages.
KCCA will now head into the Caf Confederation Cup where they will hope to make it further in the continental competition.
Meanwhile, goalkeeper Mbongeni Mzimela was the unexpected two-goal hero as Platinum Stars booked a Caf Confederation Cup playoffs place at the weekend in Rustenburg.
The 31-year-old converted two penalties in a 3-1 victory over Vipers, of Uganda, that overturned a 1-0 away loss in the last-32 tie.
Ulinzi Stars, of Kenya, overcame having a player sent off to whip Smouha, of Egypt, 3-0 in Machakos, but still exited the African equivalent of the Europa League.
Kenyans Jesse Were and David Owino scored for Zesco United, of Zambia, who booked a playoffs place by drawing 2-2 with Le Messager Ngozi, of Burundi, in Bujumbura.
JS Kabylie, of Algeria, eliminate Etoile, of Congo Brazzaville, with a 1-0 win.
Moroccan sides MAS Fes and Ittihad Tanger also progressed.
Recreativo Libolo, of Angola, held Ngezi Platinum, of Zimbabwe, 0-0 in Harare to advance, having built a 2-1 first leg advantage.