Caf Champions League: Al Hilal 0-0 Mamelodi Sundowns - Masandawana maintain unbeaten record

Mosa Lebusa, Mamelodi Sundowns, January 2021,Backpagepix

Mamelodi Sundowns were held to a 0-0 draw by Al Hilal in the Caf Champions League Group B match at Al-Hilal Stadium in the Sudanese city of Omdurman on Friday afternoon.

Masandawana were looking to keep up their perfect record in the group stage having edged out DR Congolese giants Tout Puissant Mazembe 1-0 at home in their previous game in this competition.

The PSL champions decided to rest some of their key players with the team having already qualified for the quarter-finals, with Ricardo Goss, Hlompho Kekana and Promise Mkhuma among the players who were starting. 

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On the other hand, the Blue Wave were desperate to secure their first win in the group stage having been held to a 0-0 draw by Algerian side CR Belouizdad at home in their previous game in this competition. 

Mohamed Abdelrahman, who scored against South Africa's Bafana Bafana in the 2022 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier on Sunday, led the attack for coach Ricardo Formosinho's side. 

The Blue Wave got off to a bright start with Abdelrahman forcing Sundowns goalkeeper Goss into a low save as the hosts looked to take an early lead. 

Masandawana did threaten through their central defender Rushine De Reuck, whose header was cleared off the goal-line as the Blue Wave survived a scare. 

The hosts finished the first half the stronger of the two teams and they came very close to scoring through Al Hilal midfielder Abuaagla Abdalla, after the visitors were caught ball-watching.

The 28-year-old midfielder's attempt hit the woodwork with Sundowns shot-stopper Goss well-beaten and the score was 0-0 at the half-time break.

Goss, who had been handed a rare start ahead of Denis Onyango and Kennedy Mweene, made a crucial goal-line clearance from a shot from Abdelrahman after the restart. 

Sundowns' technical team, which is led by Manqoba Mngqithi, introduced Haashim Domingo just before the hour-mark as the 10-time PSL champions looked to open the scoring.

Domingo tried to make an immediate impact, but his effort was saved by a well-positioned Ali Achrine in the hosts' goal, with Masandawana controlling the game. 

Kekana was unlucky not to score with one of his trademark long-range shots which hit the crossbar with Achrine rooted to the ground and ultimately, the game ended in a 0-0 draw. 

Sundowns remained at the top of the group standings, nine points clear of second-placed Al Hilal, with the two teams set to wrap up their Group C campaign against Belouizdad and Mazembe, respectively, on April 9.

Masandawana will now take on Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila in a PSL match at Peter Mokaba Stadium on April 6. 

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