COMMENT: Mamelodi Sundowns prove credentials in win over USM Alger

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Hlompho Kekana of Mamelodi Sundowns, September 2019
Goal takes a look at how Masandawana outsmarted the eight-time Algerian champions in Blida

A win for Mamelodi Sundowns in their next Caf Champions League match will see them reach the knockout phase with two matches to spare.

This comes after Saturday evening's 1-0 away win over Algerian champions USM Alger, who saw their nine-match unbeaten run at home in the competition come to an end.

Hlompho Kekana's second-half goal was enough to earn Masandawana an impressive hard-fought victory and they extended their lead at the top of the Group C standings.

Goal discusses Sundowns' win, which helped maintain their unbeaten record in this season's group stage having recorded two victories and one draw under Pitso Mosimane.

Solid Defence And Experience

Denis Onyango, Mamelodi Sundowns, April 2019

Sundowns were under pressure from the first whistle as Alger searched for an early goal which would have possibly unsettled the visitors' defence.

However, the experience of Wayne Arendse and Denis Onyango proved valuable on the day as they were the calming influence in the backline which weathered the storm.

Onyango made several breathtaking saves to keep the Red and Blacks at bay, while Arendse marshalled the defence organising it and making crucial tackles throughout the game.

As a result, the Brazilians remain one of the two teams which are yet to concede in the group stage with three matches played alongside the defending champions Esperance de Tunis.

A solid defence is a key to Champions League success as it tends to allow Sundowns to focus on probing and pressing the opposition for openings and this was evident in the win over Alger.

Kekana scored the only goal of the match after pressing and forcing an Alger defender into making a mistake and he pounced and scored the winner.

Kekana And Jali Partnership Blossoming

Andile Jali, Mamelodi Sundowns

The two accomplished players complement each other in central midfield and they combined well until Kekana was replaced by defensive midfielder Tiyani Mabunda shortly after scoring.

Jali seems to have rediscovered the form which saw him play an instrumental role in helping Orlando Pirates reach the 2013 Champions League final, before he secured a move to Belgian side KV Oostende.

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On the other hand, Kekana remains a consistent performer in the middle of the park and he has been very influential since he returned from his four-match suspension in Caf competitions.

Kekana and Jali are both box-to-box midfielders, who work well defensively and they are also blessed with an attacking sense as one of them tends to venture forward and help out in the attack.

In the clash with Alger, Jali sat deep in midfield allowing 2016 Champions League winning captain Kekana to push forward at times and the move paid off as their partnership continues to blossom.

There is no doubt that Sundowns can go all the way and clinch their second Champions League title if the duo maintains their consistent performances on the continent.