United are victorious
Sundowns brought their A-game, but in the end, it came down to a penalty shoot-out
Mamelodi Sundowns’ loss to SuperSport United in the Telkom Knockout is good news to the Premier Soccer League. Even though they won’t come out openly to thank United, the league would have been happy with the outcome of this encounter.
Reason being Sundowns can now focus on their league programme as they are about five games behind. Their participation in the Fifa Club World Cup in December would have increased their backlog even more if they were still involved in the Telkom Knockout competition.
The defending champions lost out to a determined and hard-working United, who played for almost an hour with a man down after Onismor Bhasera’s red card in the 64th minute.
In a week when the Soweto derby was criticised for failing to live up to expectations, the Tshwane derby tried to bring back the aura of the derbies.
This is what derby football should be about: entertainment and interesting – as displayed here by the two Tshwane sides, Mamelodi Sundowns and SuperSport United. Despite lacking goals, as the game ended in a goalless draw, it had all the characteristics of an archrival affair – yellow cards, flying tackles and even a red card.
This was a thrilling game to watch, particularly the defending champions as they got out off the blocks quickly, forcing United to retreat in numbers. Sundowns were easy on the eye as they put together neat inter-passes to the delight of the crowd, but lacked the killer instinct in front of goal.
Young Percy Tau is growing in stature in every time he plays and was a constant threat to the United rearguard. His pace and calmness in front of goal gave United’s defence all sorts of trouble. They did not know how to deal with him.
Then there were Khama Billiat and Keagan Dolly, who did not want to be left behind in tormenting the hosts. However, they were still unable to unlock United, as Ronwen Williams stood his ground in front of goal.
The Brazilians turned up the heat during extra time, trying to avoid going to penalties. But their constant raid on the United goalmouth area did not yield any results until referee Victor Gomes signalled the end of the game, meaning penalties were needed to separate the two Tshwane sides.
Downs missed three spot kicks through Anthony Laffor, Thabo Nthethe and Sibusiso Vilakazi. Ricardo Nascimento was the only scorer.
United’s three spot kicks were converted by Dean Furman, Clayton Daniels and Aubrey Modiba.
Meanwhile, last season’s Telkom Knockout finalists Kaizer Chiefs have hopes of clinching this season’s version after losing to Mamelodi Sundowns in the previous final.
Winning the tournament would revitalise Steve Komphela’s coaching career, which started in 2002. He has nothing to show for it.
On his way towards the last four of the tournament is his former club, Free State Stars, who taught him the ropes as a player and coach.
So, there won’t be any love lost between the two parties when they meet this afternoon at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban at 3pm.
The semi-final draw will be conducted live on television after this match.
CLOSE CALL, BUT VICTORY COMES Luvuyo Memela of Orlando Pirates during the Telkom Knockout quarterfinal match Highlands Park at Orlando Stadium yesterday. Pirates won the game 2-1