ZIMBABWEAN opposition political party’s Zimbabwe People First’s SA province joined South Africans in congratulating Zimbabwean national team and Mamelodi Sundowns player Khama Billiat for being part of the team that won the Orange CAF Champions League 2016 with the South African club against Egypt’s Zamalek yesterday in Alexandria.
“You have represented Southern Africa in a very positive manner.As Zimbabweans we are proud of your achievement. As ZimPF we are proud of you and your team.The achievement has shown that with a supportive government Southern African teams can achieve much,” says a statement issued by the party last night.
Mamelodi Sundowns lost the second leg of their African Champions League semifinal 1-0 at Zamalek, but take the title 3-1 on aggregate in a huge boost for South African football.
The opposition party took the opportunity to outline its party policy in sports in Zimbabwe, saying it would encourage to have sporting schools of excellence in each province,district,ward and zones in order to tap talent in every corner of Zimbabwe.
“We know Zimbabwe soccer clubs have the potential to achieve what South African clubs have done,”” says the Party.
Khama Billiat had the first effort on target for Sundowns after a well-worked move, but his effort from 35-yards drifted well side.
Other big names to congratulate Sundowns were, FIFA which tweeted: “Congratulations Mamelodi Sundowns – Champions of Africa and on their way to the #ClubWC”, SA’s Minister of Sport Fikile Mbalula who says he felt honoured and privileged to have witnessed history being made by Sundowns.
Arts & Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa, also weighed in while Olympic Gold medalist Caster Semenya says:
“Well done to @Masandawana proud of you guys.. Salute” while the SA PSL also lauded ccoach Pitso John Hamilton Mosimane for being the “first South African born coach to win the CAF Champions League title.”
Zamalek’s Nigerian forward Stanley Ohawuchi sliced between Thabo Nthethe and Soumahoro, but with just Onyango to beat, put his shot wide of goal in what was a huge let-off for the visitors.
Sundowns were dealt a blow midway through the first half when they lost first-choice keeper Onyango to injury, to be replaced by the experienced Wayne Sandilands.
The Brazilians’ best chance of the first half came as Billiat did brilliantly to work space for himself and fed Tau, whose acrobatic shot was well saved by Mahmoud Gennesh.
Another great break by Sundowns three minutes before halftime saw Billiat’s shot deflected onto the top of the crossbar for a corner, which was cleared.
And when the visitors broke yet again, Anthony Laffor unleashed a vicious drive that was tipped over the top by Gennesh. Laffor then headed wide from the resultant corner.
The referee added eight minutes of injury-time at the end of the first half, mostly for a stoppage to treat Onyango, but Sundowns were able to hold on to the break.
Zamalek dominated possession in the opening 15 minutes of the second half, but bar a wild shot from Mostafa Fathi, were unable to unduly trouble Sandilands in the Sundowns goal.
But the opener came on 64 minutes and Sandiland will be disappointed with his part in it. Ohawuchi’s effort was on target and although the Sundowns keeper got a hand to it, the ball crept over the line to enliven the stadium.
Zamalek continued to pour forward and created numerous half-chances, but were denied by some excellent last-ditch defending from Sundowns and good organisation.
There was a huge scare for Sundowns with five minutes to play when Emmanuel Mayuka’s goal-bound header was cleared off the line by Soumahoro. – Patience Rusere additional reporting KickOff Magazine