How Wits and Sundowns found their way to Nelspruit
WITS and Mamelodi Sundowns will contest the MTN8 final at the Mbombela Stadium today (5pm kickoff). NJABULO NGIDI looks at their road to Nelspruit... Wits Quarter-finals Wits 2-1 Orlando Pirates, August 27. Goals: Buhle Mkhwanazi and Thulani Hlatshwayo. THE STUDENTS started the season in style with wins over the Soweto giants in their first two matches, sending a strong message to the other contenders. They beat Kaizer Chiefs in the league before knocking Pirates out of the MTN8.
While people focused on goalkeeper Felipe Ovono’s mistakes in conceding both goals, they forget Wits’ dominant display to pin the Buccaneers back.
They didn’t allow Tendai Ndoro space to make his dangerous runs, while the central midfield pair of Xola Mlambo and Thabang Monare neutralised the likes of Pirates’ Oupa Manyisa. Semi-finals First leg: Wits 3-0 Cape Town City, September 10. Goals: Eleazar Rodgers, Elias Pelembe and Gabadinho Mhango. Second leg: City 0-0 Wits, September 17. Wits won 3-0 on aggregate. IT took a blistering first half from Wits to book their place in the final. They went into halftime of the first leg leading 3-0, ending the match as a contest.
The way they bossed City off the park meant that when the Clever Boys travelled to the Mother City, it was just a sight-seeing expedition.
Gavin Hunt showed how much he wanted to win the MTN8 trophy when he rested key players for a trip to Polokwane City that was sandwiched between these two legs.
Hunt wouldn’t ordinarily do that, as he believes a sign of a good team is how they fare in the league. But he desperately wants to end a six-year wait to lift silverware again. Mamelodi Sundowns Quarter-finals Sundowns 3-1 SuperSport United, August 28. Goals: Wayne Arendse, Sibusiso Vilakazi and Khama Billiat. THE Tshwane derby might not have the same number of fans or illustrious history as the Soweto derby, but it’s miles ahead in terms of entertainment and goals. This year, it added drama to the mix when the Brazilians fought with Matsatsantsa on who will use the bench on the right.
SuperSport won the fight but Sundowns won the war, thumping their neighbours 3-1.
When Downs scored their second goal, they knocked the wind out of Matsatsantsa. Semi-finals First leg: Chippa United 0-0 Sundowns, September 11. Second leg: Sundowns 1-0 Chippa, September 21. Goal: Anthony Laffor. Sundowns won 1-0 on aggregate. THESE two legs were a good advertisement as well as a sad indictment on local football. There was plenty of entertainment from both teams, especially the Chilli Boys who dominated possession.
But there were no goals in the first leg and it took a Laffor srtike in the second with 15 minutes left to decide the outcome.
The difference in this match was experience. Chippa were playing in their first semi-final, while Downs had lost count of how many they have contested under coach Pitso Mosimane.