Are held by Vita

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT - MATSHELANE MAM­ABOLO

Mamelodi Sun­downs (1) 1 (0) 1 A TIE that could have eas­ily have been a ham­mer­ing to send Al Way­dad Cas­blanca fear­ing for their progress as they an­tic­i­pate the quar­ter-fi­nal clash with the Brazil­ians ended in a stale­mate.

And now the op­po­si­tion will think of the de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons as hav­ing a soft belly in their own back­yard, Sun­downs hav­ing gone through the group stages with­out win­ning at home.

Pitso Mosi­mane and his team had talked up the im­por­tance of win­ning this match even though it was merely aca­demic as they’d al­ready qual­i­fied for the knock­out stage.

But they were keen to give them­selves a chance to top the group and only vic­tory, and de­feat or a draw for Esper­ance against St Ge­orge, would have done the trick.

Their play de­served suc­cess but their fail­ure to con­vert a myr­iad of chances that would have con­firmed that their 3-1 first leg de­feat of Vita was no fluke proved to be their down­fall.

And they were made to pay as Yazid Atouba Emane can­celled out Thabo Nthete’s first half goal.

It is a re­sult that will give their next op­po­nents huge con­fi­dence when they make the trip down here, Sun­downs hav­ing drawn with St Ge­orge and lost to Esper­ance in their other group matches.

It will be up to Mosi­mane to work at en­sur­ing that his team kill off matches when the chance presents it­self, his team hav­ing played pos­i­tive at­tack­ing foot­ball that should have ren­dered the match over as a con­test be­fore Vita equalised.

There were no less than four bril­liant op­por­tu­ni­ties in the first 10 min­utes of the sec­ond half, but all of them came to naught and with a 1-0 lead is al­ways pre­car­i­ous, the hosts lived to re­gret miss­ing them.

Yet even on the strength of their first half show­ing, Mosi­mane will have some­thing pos­i­tive to work on as he an­tic­i­pates the quar­ter-fi­nal.

Sun­downs turned on the magic as Sibusiso Vi­lakazi took charge of the mid­field and dic­tate the play – help­ing the Brazil­ians carve Vita open when­ever they ven­tured for­ward.

The ap­proach al­most bore fruit im­me­di­ately, Nthete head­ing over a good cross from the left flank when send­ing it on tar­get ap­peared much eas­ier on 32 min­utes.

The skip­per was soon mak­ing amends by slot­ting home the opener three min­utes later fol­low­ing a mag­nif­i­cent through ball from Vi­lakazi.

The Vita de­fence had moved up, at­tempt­ing an off­side trap, but failed dis­mally.

The opener in­jected ex­tra con­fi­dence into the home team and they dished out a dis­play that pleased the crowd no end.

And then with the half-time whis­tle loom­ing, Sun­downs played in­ter­changes deep in­side the Vita side of the field be­fore re­treat­ing to their own with neat touches un­til the ball was back with the goal­keeper.

It was a move that would no doubt have re­minded the older fans in the crowd of the good old days of the Shoe Shine and Pi­ano Sun­downs of Screamer Tsha­bal­ala.

But that team turned their dom­i­nance into goals, some­thing this class will have to do against Wy­dad or run the risk of kiss­ing their ti­tle goodbye.

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