Goal-shy Sundowns make shock CAF Champions League exit

David LEGGE
Sundowns, who beat Zamalek of Egypt to win the 2016 final (pictured, as Zamalek's striker Basem Morsy reacts after losing the CAF Champions League football competition), faced Horoya having failed to score in their last three matches

Former title holders Mamelodi Sundowns of South Africa were shock CAF Champions League group-stage casualties Tuesday after being held 0-0 at home by Horoya of Guinea.

Horoya advanced to the quarter-finals from Group C as runners-up, with defending champions Wydad Casablanca of Morocco, who drew 0-0 with Port of Togo in Lome, topping the table.

Primeiro Agosto of Angola and two-time champions Entente Setif of Algeria also secured last-eight places in the elite African club competition.

The other quarter-finalists are Esperance and Etoile Sahel of Tunisia, record eight-time champions Al Ahly of Egypt and TP Mazembe of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Sundowns, who beat Zamalek of Egypt to win the 2016 final, faced Horoya having failed to score in their last three matches in all competitions and once again flopped up front.

The Pretoria outfit came closest to breaking the deadlock midway through the second half when a headed scoring attempt rebounded off the crossbar.

But there were few anxious moments for Senegal's World Cup goalkeeper Khadim Ndiaye.

Ineffective New Zealand striker Jeremy Brockie was replaced by Liberian Anthony Laffor early in the second half without any benefit to Sundowns.

Unbeaten Wydad finished the six-match mini-league series with 12 points, Horoya nine, Sundowns six and Port four.

Group D followed a predictable course with Primeiro beating Mbabane Swallows of eSwatini (formerly Swaziland) 2-1 in Luanda to finish runners-up behind already-qualified Etoile.

The Angolan club scored twice within four minutes during the first half through Democratic Republic of Congo-born Jacques Bitumba and Hermenegildo 'Geraldo' Bartolomeu.

- Swallows halved deficit -

Swallows halved the deficit via a Quadri Aladeokun goal but could not prevent a fourth consecutive CAF defeat.

Rami Bedoui nodded a 70th-minute equaliser after a free-kick to earn 2007 champions Etoile a 1-1 draw at Zesco United of Zambia, who had taken an early lead through Lazarous Kambole.

It was the seventh Champions League goal this season for Kambole, making him the joint leading scorer with Hamid Ahaddad from Difaa el Jadida of Morocco.

Etoile, the only team to win the five current and past CAF club competitions, topped the table with 12 points followed by Primeiro (nine), Zesco (six) and Swallows (four).

Setif rose from last to second in Group B behind already-qualified Mazembe thanks to a surprise 2-1 away victory over fellow Algerian club Mouloudia Alger.

Akram Djahnit and El Habib Bougelmouna scored for Setif inside the opening half-hour and all Mouloudia could manage in reply was a Walid Derrardja goal from a penalty before half-time.

Mazembe, surprisingly held 1-1 at home by Jadida after conceding a stoppage-time equaliser, finished with 12 points, Setif eight, Jadida six and Mouloudia five.

With Ahly and Esperance having secured qualification from Group A after the previous matchday, the issue was who would finish first and the Egyptian side retained top spot.

Ahly edged Kampala Capital City Authority of Uganda 4-3 in Alexandria with Moroccan Walid Azaro scoring twice and Malian Salif Coulibaly once for the Cairo-based outfit.

Esperance were involved in a far more mundane match, drawing 0-0 with Township Rollers of Botswana in Gaborone.