Namibian hitman Peter Shalulile scored two goals as Mamelodi Sundowns beat Kaizer Chiefs on Saturday to reach the MTN8 final.
The Brazilians juggernaut keeps rolling on. This time Rulani Mokwena’s Mamelodi Sundowns snuck into the MTN8 final after showing that they are not just good at playing their opponents off the pitch but that they can also succeed with their backs to the wall.
That Mokwena jumped high and punched the air with joy at the final whistle told the story of just how tense an affair this way. And Itumeleng Khune kicking the ball onto the field in anger from the bench confirmed just how this tie could have gone either way – Kaizer Chiefs having needed just a goal to steal the tie on the away goals rule.
In the end though it was Peter Shalulile’s brace that did the trick for Sundowns, although Chiefs fans will look back and point the finger of blame at goalkeeper BrandonPetersen who must now surely hate this 29 000-seater arena in the heart of Atteridgeville.
Just as he did in the league match which Sundowns won by the same margin following his howler late in the game, Petersen made yet another.
Back in goal after he was rested for the midweek DStv Premiership tie away to SuperSport United where Amakhosi lost to a first minute goal, Petersen went and did worse than Khune.
Chiefs yet again conceded a goal immediately after kick-off just as they did at the Peter Mokaba Stadium.
They were caught cold yet again here after initiating play from the centre circle and sending the ball back to goalkeeper Brendan Petersen who had yet another howler like he did when Chiefs lost 2-1 in the league. This time he was too slow to react to the pressure put on him by Shalulile and the Namibian gleefully took the chance.
The goal – pencilled in by referee Luxolo Badi as having come on ten seconds – is the second quickest in the PSL history after the 9th second strike by Free State Stars’ Aleni Lebyane against Santos back in 2010.
Chiefs’ defeat highlighted coach Molefi Ntseki’s failing in drumming that good old coach’s favourite cliché into his players’ heads. Time and again football technicians and tacticians regularly spew the phrase ‘we must keep our wits about us in the critical phases of the match’ in reference particularly to the first and last five minutes of each half.
Having let in the first in that opening minute, Chiefs went to sleep at the end of the initial stanza and allowed Shalulile to grab his second just before half-time during the four minutes added on for stoppages.
It was a goal not even Sundowns seemed to have expected, at least not their coach Rulani Mokwena who had already walked down the tunnel to prepare what would no doubt have been a heated half time talk after his team had allowed Chiefs the equaliser from the penalty spot via Ashley Du Preez.
But Brazilian Lucas Ribeiro did brilliantly with some persistent play to fashion a chance that was not really there and set up Shalulile for an easy headed second goal.
Having looked like sheep to the slaughter following the concession of that early goal and making some comically calamitous errors at the back that should have been punished by Sundowns, Chiefs found their footing deep in the first half and fashioned some half chances that earned them corner kicks.
From one of those, Sipho Mbule handled the ball for the spot-kick which Du Preez calmly converted and Amakhosi took the ascendancy for a bit until they went to sleep in added time.
They had thus built themselves a mountain to climb although they were aware that a single goal would see them winning via the away goal rule and they went for it, Ntseki making numerous changes one of which saw Christian Saile taking to the field.
The Congolese made an impressive impact, making a threatening run on the right to leave his marker sprawled on the pitch and delivered a low cross that Du Preez smashed first time only for Ronwen Williams to pull off a fantastic two-footed block.
Almost immediately thereafter Saile attempted a bicycle kick which went wide off goal as Chiefs looked to steal the game. Try as hard as they did,the found Sundowns hard to penetrate and at the end it was the crowd in yellow chanting celebratory songs while those in gold left the stadium with their tails between their legs.