Wydad Athletic Club kept their continental trophy hopes alive by beating South Africa’s Mamelodi Sundowns in an electrifying clash in the first leg of the Grand Finale of the maiden African Football League.
In a thrilling display of skill and determination, Wydad emerged victorious with a 2-1 win over their South African rivals, setting the tone for an enthralling showdown in the second leg.
A 41st-minute goal from Montasser Lahtimi and a second from Anas Serrhat secured the victory for the Moroccan Super Power, as Wydad managed to get a consolation in the 74th minute.
The atmosphere at Stade Mohammed V was nothing short of electric as passionate supporters filled the stands, their chants echoing throughout the stadium in support of their respective teams. From the very first whistle, it was evident that both clubs were determined to leave everything on the field in their pursuit of continental glory.
Wydad Athletic Club wasted no time in making their intentions clear, launching a relentless attack on the Sundowns’ defense. The Moroccan outfit showcased their technical prowess and fluid passing, keeping their opponents on their toes. It was midfielder Mohammed Ounajem who broke the deadlock, finding the back of the net with a sublime strike in the 21st minute, sending the home crowd into a frenzy.
Undeterred by the early setback, Mamelodi Sundowns fought back fiercely. The South African side, known for their resilience, displayed their attacking prowess and continued to press Wydad’s defense. Their perseverance paid off in the 37th minute when forward Themba Zwane unleashed a thunderous shot from outside the box, equalizing the scoreline and silencing the home crowd for a brief moment.
However, Wydad Athletic Club refused to let Sundowns gain control, quickly regaining their composure. Their relentless attacking style kept the Sundowns’ defense on the backfoot, creating numerous scoring opportunities. It was no surprise when, in the 58th minute, forward Ayoub El Kaabi found the back of the net with a clinical finish, putting Wydad back in the lead and igniting the stadium once again.
The remaining minutes of the game witnessed a fierce battle, with both teams desperately seeking to add to their tally. Mamelodi Sundowns launched a series of attacks, testing the Wydad defence, but the Moroccan club held firm. The final whistle blew, leaving Wydad Athletic Club with a hard-fought 2-1 advantage heading into the second leg of the final.
Both teams can be commended for their exceptional performances, showcasing the talent and spirit of African football. As the players left the field, they were met with roaring applause from the appreciative fans who recognised the quality of football on display.
The stage is now set for an epic second leg where Mamelodi Sundowns will have the opportunity to turn the tables and seek redemption on their home turf. Football fans across the continent eagerly await the outcome of this highly anticipated encounter, as the African Football League Final promises to deliver yet another scintillating chapter in the rich tapestry of African football history.