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Semi-finals in sight as Sundowns upset Zamalek


Johannesburg (AFP) – South African club Mamelodi Sundowns upset Zamalek 2-1 in Egypt Sunday to all but clinch a CAF Champions League semi-finals place three months after being eliminated from the competition.   

The Pretoria club need one point from a return match against Zamalek this month or a visit to Nigerian team Enyimba during August to be certain of a last-four spot.

Last April, Sundowns were eliminated on away goals after drawing 2-2 on aggregate with V Club from the Democratic Republic of Congo in the final qualifying round for the group phase.

But the Kinshasa outfit were disqualified for fielding a banned player, Malian Idrissa Traore, and Sundowns got a second chance.

Making the most of it, the South Africans beat Enyimba last month and the win over Zamalek gives them a three-point Group B lead.

Sundowns have six points, Zamalek three and Enyimba are pointless after also losing at home to the Egyptian club. The top two finishers advance to the semi-finals.

The other club in the mini-league, Entente Setif of Algeria, were kicked out after their supporters forced the abandonment of a match against Sundowns last month.

Tiyani Mabunda put Sundowns ahead after 18 minutes at the Petrosport Stadium in Cairo by latching on to a rebound off the post and slamming the ball past goalkeeper Ahmed El Shenawy.

Zamalek took advantage of a defensive mix-up to level on 37 minutes as hesitancy between goalkeeper Denis Onyango and centre-back Thato Nthethe allowed Mohamed Ibrahim to score.

Zimbabwean Khama Billiat struck the 67th-minute winner by firing a low shot into the corner of the net soon after Colombian Leonardo Castro had been foiled by the woodwork. 

Zamalek losing completed a miserable weekend for Egyptian clubs with record eight-time African champions Al Ahly held 0-0 at home by Group A pacesetters Wydad Casablanca of Morocco.

Zesco United of Zambia used home advantage to defeat ASEC Mimosas of the Ivory Coast 3-1 in the same section.

A Wydad side coached by former Wales striker and manager John Toshack have seven points, Zesco six, ASEC three and Ahly one halfway through the group phase.

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