Monday May 22, 2023. 13:17
Wydad Casablanca head coach Sven Vandenbroeck believes experience trumped quality as they eliminated Mamelodi Sundowns to reach the CAF Champions League final for the second year running.
The defending champions needed a win or a scoring draw in the semi-final, second leg at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday after being held to a goalless stalemate in Casablanca seven days earlier.
Vandenbroeck’s side fell behind on two occasions in Pretoria but they battled back for a 2-2 draw to progress on the away-goals rule, setting up a date with Al Ahly in a repeat of the 2022 final.
Vandenbroeck confessed to favouring Sundowns to come out on top but felt Wydad’s vast experience in Africa’s elite club competition saw them through in the end.
“I said after the first leg that a goalless draw is a difficult score for both and I think what happened today, we reduced the space in the first half to surprise them in the second half with more pressure forward,” he said after the match.
“We were well prepared for being 0-1 down and 1-0 up and I think in the end, it is an experience that wins from maybe a little bit of quality on the Sundowns side over the two legs.
“That’s my vision about it. I have to congratulate my players with a great mentality to go down in the first half. This was a better game than the first leg, with more quality on the ball.
“Good defence mentality and we were well prepared in what we had to do in all scenarios. I gave more chances to Sundowns to go through than us. But in the end, experience won over a little bit more quality.
“Sometimes you have to win something to get over that point and Wydad is used to winning something and they have won the Champions League already.
“So maybe it is just that extra experience, the extra mental part that plays. But if they continue like this, I think they will dominate in the next couple of years.”