Sundowns close the gap on Chiefs with a win over Stellies

Sphelele Mkhulise of Mamelodi Sundowns celebrates his goal with coach Pitso Mosimane during the Absa Premiership match between Mamelodi Sundowns and Stellenbosch FC at Loftus Versfeld Stadium. (Photo by Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Images)

Following the win, Sundowns remained third , on the log standings, on equal points with second-placed SuperSport United.

Both are 10 points behind log leaders Kaizer Chiefs.

Football is a game of gambles and risks and Mamelodi Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane took arguably one of his biggest gambles this season so far by fielding a team that consisted mostly of the players who have not had much game time in all competitions this campaign.

Mosimane’s gamble almost went south on Wednesday night when the defending champions had to come back from behind to win 3-1 against Absa Premiership rookies Stellenbosch FC at the Loftus Versfeld Stadium in the capital city.

Downs were put on the back foot after 36 minutes through a towering header from striker Ryan Moon. Moon’s goal was created by veteran left-back Marc Van Heerden who delivered a gorgeous cross from the flank and Moon rose above Downs’ defenders to head past Kennedy Mweene.

In the second half, round about the hour mark, Themba Zwane pulled one back for Masandawana from the penalty spot. Referee Kulasande Qongqo had penalized Stellies captain Mogamad De Goede for an illegal tackle in the 18-yard box. However, from hindsight, the man in the middle got it wrong as De Goede did not touch Zwane when he shot to the ground.

Some 15 minutes later, De Goede was again on the wrong side of the law when he made a nasty tackle on Rivaldo Coetzee, hitting him on the ankle with his studs. Coetzee was stretchered off and in the process, Reyaad Pieterse, who was the reserve goalkeeper for Sundowns, was sent off for supposedly remonstrating to the match officials after the horrible tackle. De Goede’s action did not go unpunished as Qongqo showed him a straight red card.

Mosimane was left with a big hole at the heart of midfield as he had withdrawn Tiyani Mabunda and with Coetzee a forced substitute, “Jingles” introduced defender Mosa Lebusa and pushed Motjeka Madisha into the central midfield position.

After numerous searches for the winner, it eventually came from youngster Sphelele Mkhulise, who is otherwise known as the “Young Pitso”. Mkhulise netted his second goal for the Brazilians in the 85th minute when he was found on the run by Zwane. Substitute Keletso Makgalwa made the score-line more emphatic with a stoppage time goal as the Brazilians will now shift their focus to the Telkom Knockout final against Maritzburg United this Saturday the Moses Mabhida Stadium.

 

For more news your way, download The Citizen’s app for iOS and Android.





today in print