Sundowns see off Nouadhibou in Champions League group opener
Sundowns could have won by a bigger margin had they been more clinical in front of goal to send a statement of intent to the rest of Group A rivals.
Peter Shalulile of Mamelodi Sundowns celebrates goal with teammates Marcelo Allende and Sphelele Mkhulise during the CAF Champions League 2023/24 match against Nouadhibou at Loftus Stadium in Pretoria on Sunday. (Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix)
Mamelodi Sundowns opened their group stage of the 2023/24 Caf Champions League campaign with a 3-0 against 10-man FC Nouadhibou at Loftus Versfeld on Sunday.
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Lucas Ribeiro, Peter Shalulile and Gaston Sirino were on target for the Brazilians who were in complete control of the game from the first whistle under the scorching sun in Tshwane.
The home side also turned on the heat on the field of play and led 2-0 at the break against the Mauritanian top-flight outfit that had their goalkeeper Babacar Diop sent off in the second half.
Masandawana could have won by a bigger margin had they been more clinical in front of goal to send a statement of intent to the rest of their Group A rivals in Pyramids and TP Mazembe.
The Egyptians recorded a narrow 1-0 over Mazembe two days earlier with South African striker Fagrie Lakay netting the winner.
Sundowns coach Rulani Mokwena made quite a number for changes to his line-up with his internationals Themba Zwane and Teboho Mokoena benched for the encounter.
The changes are part of a rotation policy that will be a constant feature of this season to ease the workload in what will be a gruelling campaign.
Aubrey Modiba and Mothobi Mvala missed the game after picking up injuries while on national duty for world cup qualifiers against Benin and Rwanda.
Ribeiro opened the scoring with a first time low shot after being teed up by Thapelo Morena on the edge of the box in the 22nd minute.
It was Riveiro’s third goal of the champions campaign having scored a brace against Bumamuru in the second round of the preliminary stage.
It didn’t take long for Mokwena’s charges to double their lead against. Shalulile headed home from a Marcelo Allende corner six minutes later to make it 2-0.
The Sundowns ladies team were crowned African champions last Sunday and anything less than a win would have dampened the spirits of the home faithful.
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It went from bad to worse for the visitors who saw their nine-game unbeaten streak come to an end. Diop was sent for an early shower after a challenge outside the box on substitute Sirino with 20 minutes left.
The Uruguayan dusted himself off the ground to smash home to resultant free kick to stretch their lead to 3-0.
The DStv Premiership champions will now turn their attention to domestic football with a league encounter against SuperSport United on Wednesday at Lucas Moripe Stadium.