Sundowns return home with fanfare and pageantry

Mamelodi Sundowns
Mamelodi Sundowns return home with the Champions League trophy

South Africa’s Mamelodi Sundowns have arrived back home to a heroes’ welcome after winning the African Champions League on Sunday.

Thousands of football fans gathered at OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg to congratulate them.

“I’m humbled to hear everyone chanting my name,” said Pitso Mosimane, the first South African coach to win the continent’s premier club competition.

Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula gave the players $1,450 each as a reward.

“Sundowns didn’t only represent themselves but our nation,” Mbalula tweeted. 

“20,000 rand ($1,450) to a player to show our appreciation is little but a sign of gratitude.”

Although Sundowns lost 1-0 against Egyptian opponents Zamalek in Alexandria on Sunday, they won the final 3-1 on aggregate following a strong showing at home the previous weekend.

They are only the second South African side to be crowned Africa’s club champions, after Orlando Pirates became the first in 1995.

Pirates’ success predated the Club World Cup by five years, meaning that Sundowns will become the first South Africans to contest the Fifa tournament.

December’s Club World Cup in Japan features the reigning club champions from every continent, with Real Madrid of Spain representing Europe.

Sundowns have little time to celebrate as they return to action on Thursday, hosting Polokwane City in a League Cup tie exactly 36 hours after landing in Johannesburg.

Sundowns now have a tough catch-up programme as they have played just one Premier Soccer League game this season while most clubs have already played six.

Their next league game is at home to Cape Town City in Pretoria on Sunday.

 

 

 

Aisha JM