Mamelodi Sundowns lost the second leg of their African Champions League final 1-0 at Zamalek, but take the title 3-1 on aggregate in a huge boost for South African football.
Sundowns held a hefty 3-0 lead from the first leg in Pretoria last weekend, but were up against a full Borg El Arab Stadium and a fired-up Zamalek.
Moamen Soliman (Head Coach, Zamalek)
The best team won the title. The good thing for us is we can keep our heads up even in the face of defeat. We lost the first leg 3-0, and won here 1-0 but the big thing was the fans cheering us on throughout the game. We have not seen that for a long time with the fans behind the team even when they are losing. Our fans appreciate and understand the environment that we found ourselves in. We had more chances than Sundowns and dominated. Football does not follow a specific logic and always rewards the team that with continuity. I was appointed within a short time and I’m happy with what we have achieved. During the three months in charge, I had only 20 training sessions with the team and had only 14 players available for the latter stages, that is an achievement and the supporters should be proud.
I cannot say if any of the players have the experience of playing in front of such a crowd, since for the last four years, matches in Egypt has been behind closed doors.
Also, I was surprised when the president of the club (Mortada Mansour) came to the dressing room and commended the team for their efforts and reposing confidence in the technical team.
Pitso Mosimane (Head Coach, Mamelodi Sundowns)
It was a very difficult game and went as expected. We expected Zamalek to come on top for the first minutes. We told the players if we can deal with the first 15 minutes, we should be okay. During that time Stanley Ohawuchi had a good chance, one-on-one with our goalkeeper Denis Onyango, but failed to connect home. We also had some counter attacks but failed to make the most of them. Our decision making in the final third from the counter attacks was not very good. It was also difficult for the players to play in front of such a packed crowd. It was the first time we face such a big turn up like this. We needed a little bit of organisation to keep hold of the game. The Zamalek coach (Moamen Soliman) surprised me by deploying a different tactic by playing Stanley and Ayman Hefny, pushing the full backs out and they pressed us. We had to deal with that and knew we would go out on the break. Khama Billiat was on the break but his decision making was not good. He created a lot of problems for Ali Gabr, who was eventually booked. To come to Egypt and raise the trophy, I don’t there is no other sweet way to lift the trophy. It is indisputable that we play here and lift the trophy here. We really deserved to lift the trophy.
Keegan Dolly (Midfielder, Mamelodi Sundowns)
It was not an easy game. We knew it was going to be difficult for us especially playing a team as good as Zamalek. They have good individual players. We knew that the stadium would be packed but we persevered and worked hard. We are very proud of thi achievement. Most of us are young and to play against Zamalek with a crowd like this, is a memory that we will never forget. I’m happy at Sundowns, I’m a sundowns player and will die for Sundowns.