Sundowns down Wydad to claim inaugural African Football League 

Sundowns were trailing the Moroccan giants 2-1 from the first leg.

Mamelodi Sundowns have been crowned African Football League (AFL) champions following a 2-0 win over Wydad Casablanca at Loftus Versfeld on Sunday afternoon.

Peter Shalulile and Aubrey Modiba wrote their names in the history books of African football with a goal each as the Brazilians became the inaugural champions of the lucrative competition that comes with a whopping $4-million (over R74-million) in prize money.

Sundowns were trailing the Moroccan giants 2-1 from the first leg. They needed all the firepower they could get upfront and the team was boosted by the return of attackers Shalulile and Lucas Ribeiro from their respective injuries.

Rulani Mokwena thrust the pair back into his starting XI. Shalulile recovered from an ankle injury in time for the spectacle while Ribeiro shaked off a knee problem.

The first half was characterised by time-wasting tactics by the North Africans who were happy to hold on to the 2-1 aggregate lead.

That advantage was wiped out shortly before the break when Shalulile tapped home from close range to send the packed stadium into a frenzy.

The Namibian hitman eased the nerves of the home fans when he found the back of the net following a handling error by Wydad goalkeeper Mehdi Maftah who failed to deal with Teboho Mokoena’s venomous shot from the edge of the box.

The goal meant the game was tied at 2-2 on aggregate, a scoreline that favoured Masandawana on away goals rule of the newly-formed competition.

It didn’t take long for Mokwena’s charges to find their second gear after the restart. Aubrey Modiba raced through on goal to go past his marker and showed composure to lob the ball over the advancing Maftah to give his side a 2-0 lead eight minutes into the second stanza.

Wydad did very little to try and get back into the game. They had half chances, particularly from set-pieces but the South African champions looked comfortable defending their lead.

The game ended 3-2 overall as Sundowns finally got revenge against a side that knocked them out of the semi-final of last season’s champions league.

It’s not quite the Caf Champions League, a competition the club last won in 2016 but it’s their third continental success if you count the 2017 Super Cup.

This will also serve as a perfect dress rehearsal for their pursuit of a second champions league title. The group stages of Africa’s premier club competition get underway later this month.

Mokwena has now claimed his first cup on the continent although was part of the technical team under Pitso Mosimane seven years ago when they lifted the coveted champions league trophy.

Fifa president Gianni Infantino was in attendance for the pilot project of the AFL which Caf hopes will grow from strength to strength.