Mamelodi Sundowns all shine and class
ANOTHER domestic Cup competition, another passage to the semi-finals for Mamelodi Sundowns. That may sound like a cliche, but it is simply the truth as the Brazilians channelled their classy championship mentality to easily cruise past Orlando Pirates in the Nedbank Cup quarter-finals.
Sundowns’ co-coach Rhulani Mokwena hit the nail on the head when he described this match a “final before the final” midweek, given that the two teams left everything on the pitch at Loftus yesterday – in a match that only needed the buzz of the supporters.
Both teams went into the interval level at 1-1 after a tightly contested first half where Pirates arguably had the better scoring chances late in the half.
But just like it’s been all season, Sundowns found the smallest of chances and pulled away in the second half, winning 4-1 in the end.
By the time Lesedi Kapinga scored his team’s third, with a delightful shot that came off the underside of the crossbar, Sundowns looked to have wrapped up the game. But captain Hlompho Kekana had other ideas, putting the icing on the cake with a low and hard shot from close range.
After a hard-fought 2-1 win over Chippa United on Monday, Sundowns were out to bring that winning momentum at home, given that they lost their final Caf Champions League group stage match against CR Belouizdad
at the same ground last Friday.
That result, though, didn’t impact Sundowns’ aspirations of finishing at the summit of the Group B, given that they were still top after four wins and one draw.
But perhaps, the team that would test their unbeaten streak in domestic football since August was Pirates. Sundowns’ didn’t hit the top gear from the outset yesterday as they played in patches in the first 10 minutes, thanks to head injuries to Wayne Sandilands and Paseka Mako. But when they found their rhythm, they wasted little time in finding the breakthrough.
Rivaldo Coetzee found evergreen striker Peter Shalulile with a high-flying long ball.
The red-hot Namibian did well to protect the ball on the D-Line before hitting a hard and low shot which sailed past a diving Sandilands in goals.
Pirates, though, didn’t drop their heads as they threw more bodies forward. They were eventually rewarded after the half-hour mark when Gabadinho Mhango, who had benefited from a through ball from Deon Hotto, fended off Tshegofatso Mabasa with a ball in front of goal.
Mabasa did enough to guide the ball home with a sliding effort. Mhango, though, should have ensured that the Bucs went into the break ahead, after tossing and turning inside the box before rattling his close-range effort against the crossbar.
Sundowns duo Shalulile and Themba Zwane ensured that the Brazilians restored their lead early in the second half with some deft ones-andtwos inside Pirates’ box. But it was the latter who found the net after dancing past Sandilands to slot home in an empty net.