As expected, Mamelodi Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane made nine changes to the side that drew one-all with Chippa United this past Sunday in the MTN8 first leg semifinal in Port Elizabeth, with only Sibusiso Vilakazi and Ricardo Nascimento retaining their starting berths, while his counterpart Ernst Middendorp made two switches, opting for the experienced Abia Nale ahead of Belgian Andrea Feleccia, and Tumelo Mogapi came in for Ryan Moon.
Former ASEC Mimosas forward Yannick Zakri, who was handed his full debut, took the first chance of the match in the eight minute, but his shot went wide at goal.
However, it was the home side that dominated the first 10 minutes, as the central pairing of Blessing Moyo and Philani Zulu were dictating the play in the middle of the park, where evidently, the presence of rested duo Hlompho Kekana and Tiyani Mabunda were missed by Masandawana as Samuel Julies was deployed in the midfield anchoring role.
The unfamiliar looking Sundowns side came into life towards the 20th minute mark when what, for a moment, looked like a goal-bound Vilakazi shot, suddenly went agonizingly over the bar.
Shortly after, Themba Zwane fancied his chances as he took a shot at goal, but Virgil Vries was up to the task as the 25-year-old shot stopper held on comfortably to the Tembisa-born’s shot.
Sundowns came close to taking the lead moments after the second half began when Vries, who made some fine saves, went out of his line while Vilakazi was still battling with defender Bevan Fransman for the ball – Vilakazi failed to put the ball into an empty net as his shot found the side of the net.
The German-born coach made the first substitution of the match when he introduced Kwanda Mngonyama and withdrew Blessing Moyo, in response; Mosimane unleashed Anthony Laffor in place of Themba Zwane.
Lwandile Mfiki dished out three yellow cards, two going the way of Sundowns to Vilakazi and Thapelo Morena, while Mekoa picked up one for the home side.
The Team of Choice are yet to register a win this season after losing their opening game away to Bloemfontein Celtic, while Sundowns are set to play third game in seven days when they face Zesco United in the Confederation of African Football Champions League first leg semifinal on Saturday.