Mamelodi Sundowns coach Manqoba Mngqithi admitted that Covid-19 restrictions, which prevented TP Mazembe’s fans from attending their Caf Champions League, played a big role in the Brazilians’ 2-1 victory at the Stade du TP Mazembe which broke the Congo sides long unbeaten home record.
Downs ended Mazembe’s 12-year and 53 game unbeaten record at home in the Champions League with their victory on Saturday afternoon.
Downs opened the scoring Peter Shalulile in the 67th minute after an entertaining first half but suffered a setback six minutes later when Ricardo Nascimento was red-carded.
The hosts, though, got back into the game with 8 minutes to play when striker Tresor Mputu fired home in the 82nd minute.
Sundowns, however, claimed the three points when Lyle Lakay placed his free kick beyond the keeper in added time to stun the five-time Champions League-winning club.
Mngqithi, speaking after the match, admitted that the absence of fans aided his side.
"First one should thank Covid-19 because with your supporters, it's always different," he told the local media in Lubumbashi after the game.
"When your stadium is full, you always give a very good account of yourself.
"So the fact that we played with maybe a not so full stadium. But I must also not take credit away from the team," he continued.
"We knew we were playing against a very good team. But our confidence is very high. We've played 23 matches now and not lost a match.
"The boys fought very hard. There were some circumstances within the game that were very difficult for the boys."
The Masandawana coach also said he thought his side should have scored three goals after Themba Zwane's 38th-minute effort off the woodwork was ruled not to have crossed the line. Replays suggested Mngqithi had a case.
"I would also like to know whether the goal that was scored in the first half was not a goal. I don't know what was the reason for it not to count, because in my mind, I think we scored three goals today," he said.
Sundowns now sit top of the group with a perfect record after three wins from three.
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