Football: Mamelodi Sundows wins first edition of African League

Mamelodi Sundowns is forever in history. The South African club won the first-ever edition of the African Football League. Thanks to a completely controlled return match against Wydad Casablanca, Rulani Mokwena's men won in front of their home crowd.

Mamelodi Sundowns won the first edition of the African Football League on November 12, 2023. REUTERS - SIPHIWE SIBEKO

By: Yohann Le Coz Follow


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The first leg was a hard-fought one. And there was no second leg. In the second leg of the final of this first edition of the African Football League, Mamelodi Sundowns, who had lost 2-1 in the first leg on Moroccan soil, made short work of Wydad Casablanca (2-0). In the Loftus Versfeld Stadium, Wydad failed to put in enough athletic impact to hinder the play of the "Brazilians of South Africa". As a result, six years after their last CAF Super Cup, Sundowns are once again adding to their continental trophy cabinet.


🏆Mamelodi Sundowns are the first-ever African Football League Champions!! 🌍🌟 #Sundowns #DownsLive #AFLFinals

— Mamelodi Sundowns FC (@Masandawana) November 12, 2023

The tone was set in the first half. Not a single shot was attempted by the visitors, while the home side generally controlled the ball. On their first real clear-cut chance, the South Africans did not hesitate to open the scoring. Peter Shalulile took advantage of a volley that was poorly deflected by Youssef El Motie's gloves to finish from close range (45′+3).

In the second half, more than the ball at his feet, it was a combination of Mamelodi pressing and Wydad mistakes that weighed in the balance. On two occasions, the Moroccan defence made a complete mistake in its restart. The first time, without consequence thanks to an excellent run at the feet of El Motie. The second was fatal: Aubrey Modiba picked up the ball high up the pitch, avoided a charge and then a tackle, before finishing with a short through ball.

Stability on the bench, the key to this final?

Rulani Mokwena then exulted, his men made the break against a sluggish Casablanca team, unable to create. What if this final had not been played on the pitch, but on the bench? Mokwena has been working for more than a year at the head of his group, which he already knew as an assistant coach just before. A great fan of Pep Guardiola's football, he has infused his team with an identity. While in a little less than a year and a half, Wydad has had no less than six different technicians. The figure is staggering.

Still, Mamelodi Sundowns will forever be the first winners of the African Football League, with the sum of four million dollars at stake. Forever the only winner of this competition format as well. For its launch, the newest CAF team made do with eight teams, in order to get its neck wet before the inauguration of the 24-club tournament next season. The Mamelodi will obviously be there.

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