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By Katlego Modiba

Football Journalist

Sundowns survive Mvala red card to reach AFL semis

A goalless draw at Loftus is enough for Sundowns to go through 2-0 on aggregate.

10-man Mamelodi Sundowns produced a mature performance to reach the semifinals of the African Football League (AFL) at the first time of asking. Although Tuesday’s quarterfinal, second leg ended in a goalless draw at Loftus Versfeld, the Brazilians edged the Angolan side 2-0 on aggregate.

The game got off to the worst possible start for the home team, who found themselves a man down in the second minute of the game after Mothobi Mvala was sent off for a late challenge on Tiago Azulão.

Azulão would have been one-on-one with Ronwen Williams before the tough-tackling defender took him out. Mvala was also at fault in last season’s Caf Champions League semifinal defeat to Wydad Casablanca, as his own-goal denied Sundowns a spot in the final against eventual champion Al Ahly.

Mvala breathed a sigh of relief when the referee blew the final whistle. His teammates held on to their aggregate lead. The Brazilians will meet Percy Tau’s Red Devils in the last four of the inaugural competition. The winner over two legs will get a chance to contest the first final on November 5.

Ahly got past Tanzania’s Simba S.C. on away goals rule after the two-legged tie ended in a 3-3 draw on aggregate.

Lethargic Petro

Petro didn’t play like a side that was two goals down, they were lethargic and allowed the home team to dictate terms despite being a man down for 90 minutes.

The visitor’s first threat on goal came two minutes from the break. Veteran striker Azulão found himself unmarked inside the box but his header went over the bar with Williams rooted to his line.

Rulani Mokwena remained true to his word that he will not change their style of play. His charges bossed possession around against Petro who were simply not brave enough in front of a decent crowd in Pretoria.

 The Angolan top-flight champions looked better in the second stanza pressing for an opener but they failed to create clear-cut chances as Williams was reduced to a spectator.

Sundowns’ progression in the eight-team tournament means their domestic commitments will continue to take a backseat with the first leg against Ahly set to take place in Egypt this coming Sunday. Their game against Moroka Swallows has already been postponed.

The Tshwane giants got their revenge against Petro who dumped them out in the quarterfinals of the 2021/2022 Champions League edition. The winner of the AFL will pocket US$4 million.

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