South African club Mamelodi Sundowns claimed a first victory over Egyptian opposition by edging Haras al-Hodoud 1-0 in an African Confederation Cup tie on Saturday. Giant striker Lungisani Ndlela headed the winner 61 minutes into a lively fourth round, first leg match and the result leaves the outcome delicately balanced ahead of the second leg in two weeks.
Sundowns had drawn twice at home and lost twice away to Egyptian giants Al-Ahly during the past seven years in the CAF Champions League and for a long time it seemed they might be thwarted again.
Haras, from the Mediterranean city of Alexandria, conceded eight corners within eight minutes of the kick-off at freezing Super Stadium, but were more threatening in attack during the opening half. Veteran striker Abdelhamid Bassouni went close with a snap shot and a header before a Ndlela header and a Lerato Chabangu cross caused anxiety for the well-drilled visitors.
Sundowns continued to dominate territorially in the second half and the breakthough came when Ndlela soared above Kameni to nod in a Josta Dladla cross. It was only the second goal conceded by Haras in five Confederation Cup outings this year against Mouloudia Alger of Algeria, Al-Akhdar of Libya and the South Africans.
Uruguayan Bryan Aldave replaced fading Ndlela soon after, but it was the Egyptians who came nearest to scoring as Bassouni rounded goalkeeper Brian Baloyi only to fire into the side netting.
The fourth round pits Sundowns and seven other losers in the final African Champions League qualifiers against the eight survivors of a three-round Confederation Cup elimination process.