South African champions Mamelodi Sundowns are through to the final of the inaugural African Football League after holding on for a 0-0 draw in Cairo to eliminate reigning African and Egyptian club champions Al Ahly on Wednesday evening. A crucial first half penalty kick save from Sundowns goalkeeper Ronwen Williams provided the boost his club needed to advance with a 1-0 aggregate victory after previously defeating Ahly at home in the first leg. Sundowns will face Morocco’s Wydad AC in the final and will host the first leg on November 5 in Pretoria.
Following a miserable first leg performance, Ahly came out with intensity and it appeared that after a dominant opening seven minutes the hosts would level the aggregate score. In the 8th minute, a penalty kick was awarded after Ahly forward Percy Tau went down under a challenge from Williams as the goalkeeper attempted to claim a loose ball in his penalty area. However the South Africa national team star came up huge to deny the spot kick from Ahly left back Ali Maâloul, a second penalty kick save of the tournament for Williams after previously saving from Petro de Luanda forward Gilberto in the first leg of their quarterfinal duel.
Ahly continued to push for the goal and Williams got away with an error in the 24th minute. After spilling a cross from Ahly forward Hussein El Shahat, Williams could only watch helplessly as a clearance attempt from defender Abdelmounaim Boutouil ricocheted off Ahly forward Kahraba and off the post before the ball was cleared.
After surviving the dominance of the hosts for the opening half hour, the task became easier for Sundowns as Ahly continued to lose the momentum gained from their bright start. The introductions of attacking substitutions Reda Slim, Afsha and Anthony Modeste did little for the fortunes of Ahly and even an 84th minute red card to Sundowns attacker Júnior Mendieta did little for The Red Devils. A lengthy Video Assistant Referee review of a potential Sundowns hand ball at the edge of the penalty area gave the home supporters one last hope that a penalty kick would arrive but referee Issa Sy determined no infraction occurred and Sundowns were able to hold on.
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