Home Sport ’Business as usual’ as Sundowns qualify for Champions League group stage

’Business as usual’ as Sundowns qualify for Champions League group stage

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Mamelodi Sundowns beat Botswana’s Jwaneng Galaxy 5-1 on aggregate to qualify for the Caf Champions League group stage.

Mamelodi Sundowns’ Mothobi Mvala celebrates with teammates after scoring one of their goals during their Caf Champions League qualifier against Jwaneng Galaxy at Loftus Versfeld on Tuesday. Picture: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix

JOHANNESBURG – Another Caf Champions League campaign, another group stage qualification for Mamelodi Sundowns. There is nothing new here really as the Brazilians once again ensured they’ll be part of the 16 teams that will battle it out for continental glory.

The Brazilians qualified for the group stage in style, hammering Jwaneng Galaxy 5-1 on aggregate in the qualifiers. In the first leg, away from home, Champions League debutants Mothobi Mvala and Peter Shalulile got the goals for the Brazilians.

But it was at home, at Loftus Versfeld on Tuesday afternoon, that Sundowns wrapped up the contest in style. Kermit Erasmus, Mvala and Thapelo Morena scored for the Brazilians, while substitute Tebogo Sembowa got his team’s consolation.

Since winning their first continental crown in 2016, Sundowns have been a force to be reckoned with in the continent. But the departure of former coach Pitso Mosimane was regarded as a true test for the club.

But co-coaches Rhulani Mokwena and Manqoba Mngqithi and senior coach Steve Komphela appear to have everything under control. The “three wisemen” have also ensured that the Brazilians are undefeated so far in the Dstv Premiership after nine matches.

The Brazilians scored three goals in the nation’s capital. Erasmus opened the scoring with a scrambled goal after some lovely footwork by Peter Shalulile who delivered a telling cross on the edge of Galaxy’s box.

Nearly 10 minutes after the hour-mark, Mvala put the match and contest past the visitors, rising highest in the box to head home past an onrushing Katlego Mbise following a delightful corner-kick from Aubrey Modiba.

This was Mvala’s second goal in the Champions League in as many starts. The former Highlands Park captain is gradually finding his feet at Sundowns alongside Andile Jali in the engine room, especially after being a mere spectator in the first few matches.

Mvala’s goal, which was his third in four successive starts for the Brazilians, also saved captain Ricardo Nascimento’s blushes. The latter’s penalty was saved by Mbise early in the second half after Shalulile was brought down in the box by Gofaone Molapi.

But Morena put the icing on the cake, scoring his team’s third on the day. After a great interchange up front, substitute Keletso Makgalwa spotted a charging Morena who controlled with aplomb and thumped his effort into the roof of the net.

Apart from the missed penalty, the Brazilians were also unfortunate not to double their tally on the stroke of half-time, having seen Erasmus strike the woodwork from close-range after being released by Lyle Lakay, with Modiba failing to finish off the rebound.

There were chances for the Brazilians, even before that, falling to the evergreen Erasmus, who got a loose rebound inside Galaxy’s box before unleashing a hard, low, curling effort that whisked past goalkeeper Mbise upright.

The visitors, though, had a snippet of a chance of their own in the first half, coming from a familiar face. Orlando Pirates’ former MultiChoice Diski Challenge captain Ricardo Lourenco skinned Mvala in his half before turning to unleash a shot that Kennedy Mweene parried away.

Galaxy, who got their consolation goal late in the match, may have seen their journey come to an end in the Champions League but they’ll be delighted to know that they’ve qualified for the Confederation Cup group stage.