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African champions Mamelodi Sundowns the toast of South Africa
Published on 25-10-2016 - at 02:14' by BBC

Mamelodi Sundowns are the toast of South Africa after becoming only the second club from the country to ever win the African Champions League.

Sundowns lost 1-0 against Zamalek in Egypt on Sunday but triumphed 3-1 on aggregate as ’the Brazilians’ raised their first continental title of any kind.

In addition to winning $1.5m for claiming the trophy, the Pretoria-based side will also now represent Africa at December’s Fifa Club World Cup.

"To come to Egypt and raise the trophy, I don’t think there’s any sweeter way to lift it," Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane told the Confederation of African Football website.

Mosimane, who coached South Africa’s national team from 2010 to 2012, is the first South African to lead a Champions League-winning side.

When Orlando Pirates won in 1995, the only previous time a South African team had triumphed, the Johannesburg side was led by a Scottish and Zambian coaching duo.

South Africa’s Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula was in attendance at the game in Alexandria, and he believes Sundowns’ victory will inspire their league rivals to take the competition more seriously.

"It is important for southern Africa and for South Africa," Mbalula told BBC Sport.

"It’s a really important achievement because in this competition, the dominance has (traditionally) been in North Africa. I think Sundowns have made it big for us - we are very excited.

"We, the government, have always said that clubs must take the competition seriously, so this is very important."

On Monday, both the South African government and President Jacob Zuma sent out congratulatory messages to Sundowns through their Twitter accounts.

"It’s a miracle"

The team’s success was made all the sweeter given that Sundowns had been knocked out of the Champions League by DR Congo’s AS Vita in a preliminary round.

Sundowns dropped into the second-tier Confederation Cup from which they were also eliminated, only to earn a sensational reprieve to the Champions League after Vita were disqualified in May for fielding an ineligible player.

"It’s a miracle," Sundowns goalkeeper Dennis Onyango told BBC Sport.

"We’ve suffered a lot. When we were given a chance, it was our time to show what we can do. The guys have proved (the doubters) wrong. We’ve won it at last."

Sundowns, who are owned by billionaire mining magnate Patrice Motsepe, will now contest December’s Fifa Club World Cup in Japan.

They will be the first South African team to do so since the tournament started in 2000, five years after Pirates’ win.

"To club Motsepe and coach Mosimane, I would like to say you deserve all the accolades and you truly led from the front," said South African FA President Danny Jordaan in a statement.

"This is a historical first for a South African club to qualify for the prestigious Fifa Club World Cup."

"I want to wish Sundowns all the best in their next assignment and I am confident they are up to the challenge. They showed their tenacity and technical know-how in overcoming Zamalek over the two legs."

"This victory will serve South African football very well and will help in building a competitive Bafana Bafana side. South Africa stands tall on the African continent once again. Well done."

The Fifa Club World Cup, which features the champions of each continent, including Uefa Champions League winners Real Madrid, will take place between 8-18 December.


Kwamamaza
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