Mamelodi Sundowns' Neo Maema takes the blame for Caf Champions League exit

Neo Maema, Mamelodi SundownsBackpagePix
  • Maema was red-carded in Casablanca
  • He then missed the Caf CL semis second leg
  • Midfielder takes responsibility for Downs' failure

WHAT HAPPENED? Maema was sent for an early shower in the first leg of the semi-finals away in Casablanca and the match went on to finish 0-0. The Brazilians were then held 2-2 in the home leg with a suspended Maema missing the encounter, and they bowed out on the away goals rule.

While Marcelo Allende was also red-carded in Casablanca and became ineligible for the second leg before Mothobi Mvala scored an own goal in Pretoria, Maema places the blame on himself. He feels his sending-off contributed to Masandawana’s' elimination from the Caf Champions League.

WHAT WAS SAID: “If I can remember, I never got a red card before that game against Wydad,” Maema said as per Times Live.

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“To get the red card at that stage of the season and in a big game was disappointing for me because I could have done better. I watched it again and I felt I put my team in a difficult position because they had to play 45 minutes with 10 men.

“I apologised to my teammates, coaches and everyone. It is in the past but I also know it had a huge effect on the result.”

THE BIGGER PICTURE: In the just-ended season, Maema established himself as one of the key players in the Mamelodi Sundowns midfield. That is why his absence from the Wydad game at home created a sense of a crisis in the team.

It was a season he enjoyed more game time as he started 22 of his 24 Premier Soccer League appearances. He was also in the line-up eight times in the Champions League as he played 10 games.

In the process, he scored seven goals across all competitions and made chipped in with assists. His performances have sparked an outcry as he continues to be snubbed from the Bafana Bafana squad but the player is diplomatic about it.

WHAT NEXT FOR MAEMA? After managing to command a regular starting spot at Sundowns this season, Maema would be hoping to continue with his good form next season.

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