There were positive results for both of COSAFA’s remaining sides in CAF club competition this season and each can be confident of winning a semifinal place ahead of their quarterfinal second legs.
South African champions Mamelodi Sundowns put aside a dip in form in domestic competition to confirm their Champions League credentials as they thrashed Chabab Belouizdad of Algeria 4-1 in the first leg of their quarterfinal tie in Algiers on Saturday.
Namibia international Peter Shalulile scored twice and Neo Maema and Cassius Mailula got the other goals as Sundowns won away to keep up an unbeaten record in this year’s competition and take a handy lead for next Saturday’s return leg in Pretoria.
Sundowns had not won in domestic competition in their last four matches but showed their customary imperious style with hard pressing, constant movement and swift attack that left their Algerian hosts frequently groggy.
Shalulile took his season’s tally to 21 as he opened the scoring in the sixth minute, heading home Aubrey Modiba’s cross. But it took a lengthy VAR check for offside before it was confirmed.
Shalulile then turned provider for Maema to make it 2-0 after 20 minutes but, to their credit, the crowd and Belouizdad rallied and dominated the rest of the half before reducing the deficit on the stroke of the half-time. Miloud Rebiai got to the ball before Ronwen Williams from a corner in a mistake by the goalkeeper.
Shalulile then snapped up a defensive error to restore the two-goal lead in the 51st minute and Themba Zwane should have made it 4-1 on the hour mark but missed from point blank range.
Shalulile might have completed his hattrick, with nine minutes left in the game, as he rounded the goalkeeper but then struck the upright.
He went off but there was still time for an injury time goal as Cassius Mailula snapped up a slip from the home goalkeeper to complete the drubbing.
“A big performance from big personalities, a lot of credit to the players. They are incredible human beings. We are honest people and we do our best ever single time,” said coach Rhulani Mokwena afterwards.
But he warned: “We must keep our feet firmly on the ground, this is only halftime in the tie.”
Another South African side, Marumo Gallants, earned a 1-1 first leg draw away at top Egyptian outfit Pyramids FC in the Confederation Cup and will be hopeful of completing the job this Sunday at home.
Gallants took the lead through striker Ranga Chivaviro, his sixth of the campaign in the Confederation Cup, and seventh goal in the last six games in all competitions.
It looked as though they would hold on for the win, but conceded a late penalty that allowed Egypt international Ramadan Sobhi to equalise for the hosts.