Reigning champions Mamelodi Sundowns could only manage a draw from Tuesday afternoon’s DStv Premiership clash against Chippa United.
GQEBERHA – Mamelodi Sundowns, the reigning champions, dropped points for the first time this season following their goalless stalemate with Chippa United in a DStv Premiership match at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, in Gqeberha on Tuesday afternoon.
The Brazilians will now turn their attention to cup competition as they’ll be away to Golden Arrows in the first leg of the MTN8 semi-final on Saturday. But having been far from their best in the Eastern Cape, Sundowns will be content with the clean sheet.
The MTN8 is the only piece of silverware that’s been missing from their illustrious trophy cabinet in the last few years. But co-coach Manqoba Mngqithi insists that they can win it this season after they had full pre-season preparations.
Sundowns were playing in their third match this season, following their clashes against Kaizer Chiefs in the MTN8 quarter-final and AmaZulu in the DStv Premiership. In those matches, they showed flashes of being sharp before their draw against Chippa.
Sundowns have had a busy start to their season, although they are yet to play in the Champions League. Their match against Chiefs in the MTN8 quarter-final was decided in the penalty shootouts, while they opened their title defence against AmaZulu.
But it appears that their big squad is working for them, considering the fact they made three changes to the team that beat Usuthu at home. Mosa Lebusa missed today’s match due to an injury, while there were full debuts for Neo Maema and Grant Kekana.
Out in Gqeberha, Sundowns dominated the lion’s share of possession as they made inroads into Chippa’s final third. But the home side was not giving in easily as they defended with purpose, while talisman Sizwe Mdlinzo also assisted in their defence.
Possession, though, does not win you games, instead goals do. But the Brazilians were struggling in the first half, with their real chance of the game coming after Peter Shalulile failed to punish Chippa’s defence following a back-pass from Riaan Hanamub.
But perhaps credit should go to Gavin Hunt’s team for being compact at the back, and not allowing the Brazilians to find the pocket of spaces. However, the Chilli Boys let themselves down as they were not effective when they had to throw more numbers up front.
The Brazilians started the second half with the same dominance as the first but Chippa’s solid defence meant that they failed to penetrate. It was through a header from Shalulile that they got their first shot on target, although it was saved by Ismail Wtenga.
The introduction of fresh legs made Sundowns tick better up front, with substitute Gaston Sirino keeping the Chilli Boys’ defence on their toes with his runs, silk passes and shooting prowess. But that didn’t yield results as they could not find the openings.