Mamelodi Sundowns struggles’ on the road in the CAF Champions League continued after they began the group stage campaign with a 2-1 defeat in Nigeria.
After nine minutes, Ricardo Nascimento came very close to grabbing the lead for the Brazilians with a powerful header at close range, but goalkeeper Olufemi Kayode made an acrobatic save to keep the ball out just beneath the crossbar.
Anthony Laffor had another chance for Pitso Mosimane’s charges in the 20th minute after breaking away on the right side of the box, but his low shot across the face of goal missed slightly wide.
Laffor finally broke the deadlock for Masandawana seven minutes before the break with a simple finish at the far post after a square pass from Gaston Sirino following a quick counter-attack, 0-1.
However, Lobi Stars equalised a minute before the break from the penalty spot through Yaya Kone after Nascimento brought down Sunday Adetunji in the area.
Seven minutes into the second half, the Ortom Boys went ahead thanks to Samuel Mathias Martins who scored from close range following persistent pressure, where a goal was disallowed for Stars moments earlier.
Mosimane responded with his first change in the 65th minute, bringing on speedy forward Phakamani Mahlambi in place of Rivaldo Coetzee.
The Tshwane giants were struggling to combine in the second half, and their balls over the defence were no longer working as the hosts’ defensive line remained resolute.
The Nigerian side defended in numbers towards the end of the game, frustrating the South African outfit who could not find pockets of spaces in the last third.
In the end, Lobi held on for the victory as Sundowns get their group stage campaign off to a negative start.
Despite questions being raised about Lobi Stars Coach Solomon Ogbeide’s inability to involve some of his top players in their continental engagements, the coach has reacted to the development.
In a post match media chat after Lobi’s 2-1 win against Mamelodi Sundowns of South Africa at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium on Friday, Ogbeide explained his tactical approach to matches as he disclosed that his match plans does not revolve round a particular player.
By Frankie Omokhua