Mamelodi Sundowns have made history by winning the inaugural African Football League (AFL) title.
The South African giants secured a 2-0 victory over Wydad Casablanca in the final at Loftus Versfeld on Sunday. This triumph not only adds another trophy to Sundowns’ cabinet but also comes with a staggering $4-million prize money.
The first leg of the final saw Sundowns trailing 2-1, which meant they needed a strong performance in the second leg.
The team received a boost with the return of Peter Shalulile and Lucas Ribeiro from their respective injuries. Coach Rulani Mokwena included them in the starting lineup, and it proved to be a wise decision.
The match started with Wydad Casablanca employing time-wasting tactics to protect their aggregate lead.
However, Shalulile broke the deadlock just before halftime, tapping the ball home from close range. This goal leveled the aggregate score at 2-2, giving Sundowns the advantage on away goals.
In the second half, Sundowns continued their dominance, and eight minutes into the half, Aubrey Modiba extended their lead with a well-taken lob over the goalkeeper. Wydad Casablanca struggled to get back into the game, and Sundowns comfortably defended their lead.
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With this victory, Mamelodi Sundowns have now secured their third continental success, including the 2016 Caf Champions League title and the 2017 Super Cup.
It’s a significant achievement for the club and a perfect dress rehearsal for their upcoming campaign in the Champions League.
Rulani Mokwena, who was part of the technical team when Sundowns won the Champions League in 2016, has now claimed his first cup as a head coach.
The presence of FIFA president Gianni Infantino at the AFL final highlights the importance of this new competition, which Caf hopes will continue to grow and gain recognition.