Civics Safely Through

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By Kuvee Kangueehi WINDHOEK Namibia Premier League Champions Civics FC safely negotiated their way to the next round of the African Champions League despite going down 2-1 to Angolan champions Sagrada Esperanca in Luanda yesterday. The Civilians won 5-2 on aggregate after they beat their counterparts 4-0 at the Independence Stadium a fortnight ago. As expected the hosts went all out to attack from the first whistle but Civics somehow soaked up the pressure well. Civics clearly went to Angola to defend their four-goal lead and made little effort leaving their own half. In fact, Civics had only one goal on target, which resulted in their only goal yesterday. The Angolan champions had a number of opportunities in the first half but their impatience cost them dearly as they wasted a number of clear-cut opportunities. The half time score was 0-0. In the second half the Angolan champions raised their game and attacked the Civics defence more frequently. Ten minutes into the second half Sagrada Esperanca finally opened the scoring from a free kick. The Civics goalkeeper rushed off his goal line and fouled an Angolan striker on the edge of the penalty box. The Angolans made no mistake to capitalize on the free kick when an Esperanca striker scored with his header with no Civics defender in sight. The goal slightly rattled the visitors who came under more pressure. Their defence and midfield looked shaky with Mentos Hipondonka who just returned from injury struggling to cope in a new left back role. Captain on the day and inspirational midfielder Congo Hindjou had a poor game by his high standards and had to be replaced. Only Brian Brendell in defence lived up to expectations and defended bravely to keep the scoreline down. Civics were struggling with aerial balls and it came as no surprise when the Angolan champions increased their lead when their striker scored with a header. However, after that goal Civics held on and managed to score their own in injury time through Heinrich Isaacs. Meanwhile, in other matches Sapa reports that Mamelodi Sundowns cruised into the first-round proper of the African Champions League after beating Lesotho’s Likhopo FC 3-0 in what ultimately turned into a desultory 10-man yawn at Loftus on Sunday afternoon. The Brazilians’ undistinguished second-leg victory gave them an untroubled 4-0 aggregate success after Manqobo Ngwenya virtually sealed the issue as early as the fifth minute with the first of his two headed goals. Although unfortunate not to be awarded a penalty shortly before half-time, Likhopo gave the impression they would need a month of Sundays to make up the deficit, with Jose Torrealba’s astute lobbed goal in the 52nd minute and the completion of Ngwenya’s brace three minutes later ending the proceedings as a meaningful contest. Had it been a boxing match, the referee would surely have ended the proceedings there and then, declared Sundowns winners by a TKO and saved the small crowd from further punishment. Instead, the game meandered on aimlessly and produced its own version of pugilism in the 82nd minute when Sundowns’ Jabu Mendu and Likhopo’s Lereko Matsipa exchanged blows and were both sent off. Although at no stage in danger of defeat and demonstrating some elegant touches in the opening 60 minutes, Sundowns’ management must have been concerned by a continuation of the team’s chronic malaise of losing concentration while in control. This loss of purpose has cost The Brazilians the lead in the Premier league title race and against more powerful opposition than Likhopo it might have cost them dearly again. On the credit side, Ngwenya showed with his mesmerising skill that he is not being utilised sufficiently in the over-loaded Sundowns’ squad, which will now be marginally reduced because of what appeared Zimbabwe international Peter Ndlovu’s torn muscle injury against Likhopo. – (Additional reporting Sapa)