MAMELODI SUNDOWNS ORLANDO PIRATES
NEVER mind the scoreline in this top half of the table Absa Premiership fixture because the real action was between the two dugouts of hosts Mamelodi Sundowns and their in-form visitors Orlando Pirates.
In fact, the lackadaisical showing on the pitch was hampered by what transpired 38 minutes into this match when a Sundowns fan, exposing the poor security personnel for a game of this magnitude, managed to find his way to the Pirates bench and charged at assistant coach Rhulani Mokwena.
A few moments earlier it was the usual handbags that you would find at any game between two rivals – a bad tackle, no caution from the referee and a war of words from either side of the technical area.
But a Sundowns supporter, and Mokwena, took it a bit far.
Mokwena had been booed by the very same spectators who knew and loved him not so long ago when he was in a similar capacity at their club, and he retaliated by waving them off too to show his frustration. The game never really recovered from that scuffle, which lasted about five minutes before play resumed and referee Daniel Bennett blew for half-time.
Just when both teams were making their way to the tunnel for a bit of breather, to calm the nerves and regroup, there was more drama on the way to the change-room – Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane demanding more security in his technical area, Mokwena leaving the dugout nine minutes before half-time and goalkeeper coach Andrew Sparkes getting an earful from Pirates official Floyd Mbele.
The second half was a lot less dramatic, but the tempo of the match was spoiled by how the first had ended.
Even though there was an attempt by the two coaches, Mosimane and his counterpart Micho Sredojevic, to liven things up with some tactical changes and the introduction of players like Phakamani Mahlambi and Augustine Mulenga, the game had already long gone down a gear in the first half.
Sundowns remained unbeaten with three games in hand, while Pirates were still top of the log prior to Bidvest Wits playing their game later last night.
All the intensity that was expected from this game was non-existent despite the hype ahead of this fixture and Loftus being a sold out venue.
The truth must still be revealed: what happened to Rhulani Mokwena at Sundowns?
Meanwhile, Lamontville Golden Arrows’ woes at Princess Magogo Stadium in KwaMashu continued as they succumbed to a 2-1 defeat at the hands of struggling Baroka FC yesterday.
Abafana Bes’thende suffered their third loss at home this season. They have collected just five points out of the possible 18 on their own turf.
Baroka ended Arrows’ five-game unbeaten streak in the league, at the same time earning their first win in nine league matches.
The hosts showed intent early on, playing with zeal, structure and hunger. It took them just four minutes to test Elvis Chipezeze between the sticks for Baroka but he denied both Nkanyiso Cele and Lerato Lamola within a space of a minute.
Baroka were forced to make a substitution after nine minutes as an injury to Matome Mabebe saw Collins Makgakga come on.
The same combination which almost broke the deadlock for Arrows combined for Abafana Bes’thende’s opener. Cele floated in a magnificent curling free-kick to find the head of Lamola who showed great technique to beat Chipezeze.
Then Jemondre Dickens equalised with the easiest of finishes as he tapped the ball into the back of the net following a lovely cross by Goodman Mosele on the right and side.
The clincher for the visitors came when Baroka caught Abafana Bes’thende off guard and Vusi Sibiya made it 2-1 with a well-timed header, Mduduzi Mdantsane the provider.
Arrows did push hard for a equaliser but it wasn’t to be.