COMMENT: Why Sundowns failed in the 2018 Caf Champions League

Following Tuesday's continental disappointment, Goal looks at what went wrong for the former African champions in this year's edition

On Tuesday evening, Mamelodi Sundowns crashed out of the 2018 Caf Champions League as they played out to a 0-0 draw against Horoya AC.

Sundowns found themselves in a precarious situation ahead of the game - they were left with the task of either walking away from their final game with maximum points or exiting the continental tournament.

However, it was not to be, and questions have now arisen on why they failed in this year’s competition.

As Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane put it in his post-match press-conference, they just couldn't score enough goals.

Therein lies the answer to Sundowns’ failure. Just a look at the stats and it becomes evident that goals were an issue as the Tshwane giants managed just five goals in six games. This is by no means good enough for a team that dominated the competition just two years ago. 

Mamelodi Sundowns Champions League failure PS

Losing the likes of Khama Billiat and Percy Tau has left a huge void, but in all honesty, this isn’t the first season where scoring goals has been issue.

Even when the two players were still at the club and soaring in full flight, it was their tendency to take three or four shots per game before finding the target that saw Mosimane delve into the transfer market to sign Jeremy Brockie.

This proved that goalscoring has always been a problem, and without strikers banging in the goals on a consistent basis, it is difficult to solidify a place among the best on the continent.

Look at most of the teams who have reached the knockout rounds and one common factor is that the majority scored goals - something which Sundowns failed to do consistently.

TP Mazembe’s Ben Malango leads the goalscoring charts with seven strikes, while Al Ahly’s Walid Azarou has contributed six and Wydad Casablanca’s talisman Ismail El Haddad has scored five so far.

This is even more interesting when compared to Sundowns whose top scorers are Gaston Sirino and Sibusiso Vilakazi with two strikers each.

Although, Sundowns have bravely and proudly flown the South African flag, the truth of the matter is that they were just not good enough this year.

The Brazilians coach continuously shows great ambition and hopes to be one of Africa’s most formidable side, but they just seem to be lacking that all-important killer instinct.

That is what divides the boys from the men. Look back to the Wydad game in what was a tightly fought contest, it was the defending champions who took their chances.

Also, Sundowns’ failure to put to bed Togo-Port in Lome severely hurt them.

After missing a number of clear-cut goalscoring opportunities, Sundowns were punished and very often, that scenario repeated itself in this year's tournament.

Mamelodi Sundowns, Hlompho Kekana & Motjeka Madisha

In addition to Sundowns’ goalscoring woes, their defensive frailties is something that's often overlooked. 

Sundowns conceded six goals in as many games as they have particularly struggled from set pieces.

After bringing in Mosa Lebusa, Sundowns will hope to clog their defence and avoid making silly mistakes at the back in the coming months.

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Nonetheless, with Sundowns' continental campaign over, they will be allowed to focus and work on resolving these issues as the new campaign is just around the corner.

The transfer window is also still open and Sundowns can use their early exit from the competition as an opportunity to get rid of surplus players who were kept on only due to their Caf registration.

While failure to move past the group stages may be acceptable now, next time around, fans may not be so forgiving and Mosimane knows that with the type of investment that has been made at the club, reaching the knockout rounds will be the bear minimum expected of him next time around.