Sadly, the new normal of playing matches behind closed doors did not quite deliver as Mamelodi Sundowns and Orlando Pirates failed to light up the highly-anticipated match.
JOHANNESBURG – Championship hopefuls Mamelodi Sundowns and Orlando Pirates did little to light up the resumption of the Premiership season as they served up a lacklustre, goalless, draw at Dobsonville Stadium on Tuesday night.
It had been five months since the domestic season came to a complete halt amid the pandemic coronavirus.
However, after the PSL announced that the league season would resume with this top-of-the-table clash, the football fraternity was glued to television screens and radio channels anticipating a thriller.
Sadly, the new normal of playing matches behind closed doors did not quite deliver at first instance as Sundowns and Pirates failed to light up the highly-anticipated match.
Understandably, with both teams having not had any friendly matches prior to the resumption, it may very well be a while before they return to their best.
In the end, it was a matter of two points dropped for both sides as Sundowns failed to capitalise on their game in hand as they remained second on the standings with 45 points, three behind log leaders Kaizer Chiefs.
Amakhosi will resume their campaign against Bidvest Wits on Wednesday evening.
Pirates, who finished better than they started, still remained in the title race as they closed down the gap at the top to just seven points but they’ll know that they’ll need a chunk of luck for permutations to go their way.
The Brazilians will be the most disappointed by Tuesday’s results as they were tipped to have an upper hand over a stiff Pirates’ team that had last played competitive football in March.
Sundowns, for their part, had tasted competitive football on Saturday – thanks to a 3-2 win over Bidvest Wits in the Nedbank Cup semi-finals.
This was telling as their match fitness levels appeared to be the difference at first. Sundowns looked the liveliest in the first half with their forays in Pirates’ half almost destined for the breakthrough. But it was only Themba Zwane’s close range-efforts, which were warded off by goalkeeper Wayne Sandilands, that nearly paid dividends in the first half.
As the second resumed with both sides still searching for the breakthrough, it was the Buccaneers that threatened the most – thanks to the introduction of Luvuyo Memela, who replaced the less-effective Augustine Mulenga.
Memela nearly proved to be a trump card for coach Josef Zinnbauer as one of his deft passes upfront found an on-rushing Fortune Makaringe.
Makaringe’s low-drive shot in the 18-area rattled against the upright – with the rebound cleared by Sundowns’ defence.
As Pirates gained momentum, that forced the sharpness out of Sundowns Denis Onyango, whose reflexes had to come to the fore after a cheeky lobbed ball by Vincent Pule.
With Pirates temporarily without attacking duo Thembinkosi Lorch and Justin Shonga – who were removed from the bio bubble and the match-day squad after breaching the team’s protocols – perhaps the Sea Robbers will learn to cope without the duo.
@Mihlalibaleka – IOLSport