Sundowns’ second chance at glory

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Ask Brazilian goalkeeper Moacir Barbosa who was used as the scapegoat for the Selecao being stunned by Uruguay in the final of the 1950 World Cup in Maracana.

“Under Brazilian law, the maximum sentence is 30 years. But my imprisonment has been for 50,” Barbosa said as he was shunned in his country until he passed away in 2000.

Luckily for Denis Onyango, he and the Brazilians that are Mamelodi Sundowns don’t have to wait that long to redeem themselves in the continent after CAF handed them a lifeline.

The continent’s football governing body kicked out AS Vita from the group stage of the Champions League for fielding Idrissa Traore in the preliminary round against Mafunzo even though he was left with three matches in his four-game suspension.

Sundowns took Vita’s place in the last eight where they were drawn in Group B with Nigeria’s Enyimba, 2014 winners ES Setif of Algeria and Egyptian giants Zamalek on Tuesday in Cairo.

When the draw was done Sundowns were parading their Absa Premiership trophy and licking their wounds after they were knocked out of the CAF Confederation Cup by Ghana’s Medeama. Onyango was sent off in that ill-tempered match for tripping Abbas Mohammed after conceding the second goal.

Now he and his teammates have a chance to make up for that in the group stage of the Champions League that start on the weekend of June 17-19. His red card is likely to be rescinded because that match technically didn’t take place. “It was stupid of me to trip him,” Onyango said.

“There were a lot of emotions because of what we were subjected to. The environment was volatile but still I shouldn’t have done that. As a senior player I should lead by example. It’s something that I have to learn from and move on. This is a great opportunity for us to fight again because we have been given a lifeline. We need to make the most of this chance.”

The reason why Onyango won his fourth league title this season, and is tipped to be crowned Goalkeeper of the Season and was named Footballer of the Year in Uganda is because he made the most of the second chance the Brazilians gave him where he had to fight to move up the pecking order behind Kennedy Mweene and Wayne Sandilands.

“It got to a stage where I thought that my time at Sundowns was up, I must move,” Onyango said. “I give credit to the goalkeeper coach who was around then, Jon Ibarrola from Spain.

“He motivated me and told me to keep fighting because he knew the qualities that I have. He is the one who also asked me to go on loan at (Bidvest) Wits to get a little bit of game time. I started believing again so when I got my chance I made the most of it.

“As much as this year has been good for me, I need to be better next year. I don’t want to get into a situation where I go from being a top goalkeeper to a flop. That also applies to the team, after winning two trophies you don’t want to go to next season and win nothing.”

Stade Malien laid a complaint to CAF over the eligibility of Idrissa Traore who was used by AS Vita against Mafunzo of Zanzibar in preliminary round of this year’s CAF Champions League.

Traore played for the Malian club in the 2015 Champions League where the CAF disciplinary board handed him a four-match suspension. He served one match of that ban in 2015 which carried over to 2016 where he was now on the books of Vita. But Vita played him in the preliminary round.

CAF’s organising committee for inter-club competitions “decided to disqualify AS Vita from the Champions League, replaced by Mamelodi Sundowns, the last opponents of AS Vita before qualifying for the group phase.”

The Star

Original source: Sundowns' second chance at glory

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