Sun goes Down on Brazilians in Nigeria
Mamelodi Sundowns squandered an early advantage, to hand Nigeria's Lobi Stars a 2-1 victory in the CAF Champions League on Friday night.
- Laffor opens scoring for Sundowns
- Kone converts penalty in 45th minute
- Martins scores winner for the hosts
The visitors held all the aces in this fixture, but on their trip back to South Africa Pitso Mosimane's players will have to reflect on how this glorious opportunity slipped through their fingers.
The fact that Sundowns are in a tough group has been well documented already and there was every indication that the Lobi Stars fixture would be their best chance to secure maximum points away from home.
For 45 minutes, it appeared that objective would be realised. It is not just the fact that Sundowns scored early but it was the manner in which that goal was scored, which suggested to all and sundry that this would be a good night at the office.
Gastón Sirino found himself on the end of a well placed through ball and cut it back into the box for none other than Anthony Laffor, who finished the move with considerable aplomb. Laffor seldom makes mistakes from that range.
It is that kind of composure and discipline that was such a prominent feature for Sundowns in the first stanza - not one yellow card until the infraction from Kennedy Mweene in first-half injury time and nothing in the referee's book in the second stanza.
The first-half penalty was no doubt a turning point in the fixture. At the start of the second stanza the Lobi Stars attacking intent was clear and a disgruntled Mweene was even forced to make a series of remarkable saves to keep the visitors in the game.
However, the Sundowns resistance finally faltered, when Mathias Martins poached a ball in the box to break Sundowns hearts, with just under 40 minutes to play. Even then, Sundowns would still have believed that they deserved something out of this fixture.
There was strong evidence of that for the remainder of the match but the finishing touch, which had secured them the early, was found wanting when it mattered most. Sundowns now find themselves at the bottom of what is a tough group.
Will they have the character to fight back? We believe they will.