Mamelodi Sundowns 0-0 Wydad Casablanca (1-2 Agg): Heartbreak for the Brazilians as the Moroccan giants reach final
Masandawana missed out on a potential third continental final berth as they were unable to narrow the deficit

Despite Mamelodi Sundowns’ best efforts, the wait for another Caf Champions League medal continues as Wydad Casablanca put on a valiant display in Tshwane.

Sundowns returned to the Lucas Moripe Stadium on Saturday afternoon – the same venue which saw them run riot over Egyptian giants Al Ahly in the quarterfinals, and they were hoping to overturn a 2-1 deficit against Wydad this time around.

Masandawana fought valiantly in Rabat last weekend, claiming a precious away goal and with a place in the final on offer, the stakes were even higher.

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Sundowns and Wydad have become familiar foes in recent times having already met three times in the competition this season.

The last time these two teams met on South African soil, Themba Zwane was the hero for Sundowns, and the 29-year-old, who is the club’s top scorer in the tournament resumed duty in attack alongside Gaston Sirino and Lebohang Maboe.

The latter returned to action after missing the midweek PSL clash against Black Leopards.

While Maboe was fresh and full of running, Sundowns’ top scorer in the league was rather isolated upfront during the opening 10 minutes as Sundowns were utilising the long ball to open up spaces upfront which did not really trouble the away team.

On the other hand, as expected with Wydad holding a slender advantage, they were rather pragmatic and missed the attacking impetus of talisman Mohamed Nahiri, who was suspended for the clash.

Meanwhile, Sundowns’ best chance of the first half fell to Thapelo Morena who almost capitalised on erratic defending, but failed to control the ball which was hit straight at him by the opposition defender and landed safely into the arms of the Wydad keeper.  

Although Sundowns are one of the tournament’s most lethal sides in front of goal having netted 26 goals in their campaign.

The first half lacked excitement which disappointed the anxious crowd in attendance.

Wydad though would have been happy with their first-half exploits knowing that if the scoreline stayed goalless they would book their place in the final.

Sundowns have scored 15.4% of their goals within the first 15 minutes of the second half and the Tshwane giants certainly showed greater intent as they moved forward in search of the opener. Morena tested the Moroccan keeper Ahmed Tagnaouti with an early effort.

With the clash approaching the hour mark, the game began to open up as Wydad threw on forward Michael Babatunde.

Sundowns had a response of their own and brought on Sibusiso Vilakazi in order to up the ante as he was introduced in place of Anele Ngcongca.

The change allowed Sundowns to throw more bodies upfront as panic was beginning to set in, and with Sundowns powering men upfront, they were almost caught out on the break.

Babatunde had a golden opportunity to perhaps kill of the tie and score what would have been only his second of the campaign, but he failed to find the target.

With time starting to count against Sundowns, Pitso Mosimane then made another attacking substitution with Phakamani Mahlambi introduced.

It was hoped that his pace and creativity would cause the Wydad defenders a few headaches and to force the goal that would put them through.

But again, it was at the other end where Sundowns were kept on edge.

With just over 10 minutes to go, Denis Onyango needed to be quick off his line as he denied Babatunde.

While Sundowns tried their best to rescue the game, it would eventually end in tears for the home side as Wydad secured their place in the final.

Wydad will now take on the defending champions Esperance de Tunis in this season's final.

The Tunisian champions defeated DR Congolese giants TP Mazembe 1-0 on aggregate in a semi-final tie.



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