South African torch-bearers in the African soccer safari, Mamelodi Sundowns and Supersport United, find themselves in must-win situations in their next continental encounters if they entertain hopes of qualifying from the group stages.
Both teams played to goal-less draws against two continental heavyweights, DRC’s TP Mazembe and Esperance of Tunisia on Tuesday and Wednesday respectively.
Going into their home match at Loftus, Matsatsantsa a Pitori needed a win to put one foot in the door for qualification from Group D with Mazembe and Horoya breathing down their neck with the same points tally but with an inferior goal difference. However, the best they could manage was a share of the spoils to surrender the reins to Horoya who came out 1-0 victors over Mounana in the other encounter.
It was then left to the reigning club champions of Africa to put their faltering Champions League campaign back on track after suffering a shock 1-2 home defeat in the reverse fixture at Lucas Moripe Stadium. It was always going to be a tall order for Masandawana to upset the Tunisian champions in their own backyard but Pitso Mosimane’s men have been known to do just that especially in the past.
The SA side found the going tough in Tunis and escaped with a point to bring them second on the log, three points behind leaders, Esperance, who now have eight points from four matches. According to reports from Tunis, Masandawana could have bagged maximum points had Percy Tau managed to slot Themba Zwane’s pass past goalkeeper, Moez Ben Cherifia in the 34th minute.
Both teams were rather cautious in their approach resulting in just a handful of chances being created.
Sundowns’ next assignment is a must-win away fixture to Ethiopia’s St George on July 1.
Meanwhile, another ABSA PSL side, Platinum Stars, was forced to a 1-all draw by another Tunisian side, CS Sfaxien, at Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenburg on Wednesday evening in a CAF Confederation Cup Group B encounter. Dikwena desperately needed to boost their morale with a win following a disappointing run that saw them suffering back-to-back defeats, the latest being a 3-0 drubbing by CS Sfaxien in Tunisia a fortnight ago.
Dikwena drew first blood in the 58th minute through Bonginkosi Ntuli who beautifully finished off a Simpiwe Mnguni cross. But 20minutes later, Hannachi dashed all hopes of the home side collecting three points when poor defending gave him a chance for a simple tap-in to beat Mbongeni Mzimela in goals.
The Tunisian club could have harvested maximum points had it not been for spectacular saves from Stars’ goalkeeper.
The result leaves winless Dikwena anchoring the log while MC Algiers is at the summit with CS Sfaxien lying second.