Home Sport Sundowns in MTN8 semis after beating Chiefs on penalties

Sundowns in MTN8 semis after beating Chiefs on penalties

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Mamelodi Sundowns beat Kaizer Chiefs 2-1 on penalties to advance to the semi-finals of the MTN8 on Sunday.

Kennedy Mweene of Mamelodi Sundowns celebrates with teammates during the 2021 MTN8 Quarter Final match between Mamelodi Sundowns and Kaizer Chiefs on 15 August 2021 at the Lucas Moripe Stadium, Atteridgeville. Picture: Muzi Ntombela, BackpagePix

DURBAN – Kennedy Mweene proved to be the hero, saving four spot-kicks, as he inspired Mamelodi Sundowns to the MTN8 semi-final following a 3-1 penalty shootout win over Kaizer Chiefs in the quarter-final at Lucas Masterpieces Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

In a game that proved to be a tight contest, ending 2-2 after regulation time and extra-time, Bafana Bafana commander in chief Hugo Broos, who was in the stands, will take a lot of positives heading into the FIFA World Cup qualifiers next month against Zimbabwe and Ghana.

Coming into this match, there were déjà vu moments for both technical teams. Chiefs’ coach Stuart Baxter started his first stint at the club against Sundowns in the MTN8 quarter-final where his side was thumped 4-1 at Loftus Versfeld Stadium.

Sundowns coaching trio, meanwhile, began last season’s championship winning campaign with a convincing 3-0 win over Chiefs.

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Chiefs, who had four debutants – Sifiso Hlanti, Phathutshedzo Nange, Kgaogelo Sekgota and Cole Alexander – were also high on confidence after playing in the CAF Champions League final in July and in the Carling Black Cup Label early this month.

Sundowns, who started with an all-senior team line-up, had their first full pre-season following the amendment of the CAF calendar. And given all that was at stake, this encounter was expected to produce a thriller from the outset in Atteridgeville.

And, indeed, it lived up to the lofty billing. Chiefs lacked cohesiveness in defence, where Hlanti was pushed down the left, Njabulo Blom on the right and with Eric Mathoho and Daniel Cardoso partnering centrally, and as result they were punished.

Lyle Lakay found himself with acres of space on the right wing and floated in a delightful cross which found Peter Shalulile, who was between Cardoso and Hlanti. The Namibian kept his composure and hit a hard and low header past Itumeleng Khune.

But Sundowns proved their ability to exploit pocket spaces, with Mothobi Mvala and Rivaldo Coetzee bullying newbies Alexander and Nange in the engine room. And the duo’s efforts paid off, with Mvala setting up the evergreen Themba Zwane.

Zwane controlled wonderfully, picked up his spot and hit a hard and low shot that came off the underside of the goal post and rolled behind a flat-footed Khune. But it could have been more hadn’t Shalulile put his pin-point header wide earlier on.

Sundowns were unfortunate not to find their third after Lakay rattled the upright, following a sumptuous build-up, with Khune beaten. But Chiefs changed the completion of the game as they cut the deficit from a Bernard Parker header before halftime.

But perhaps, the talking point of the game came when Chiefs completed the turnaround. Substitute Keagan Dolly, with his first touch of the game, set up Khama Billiat who pounced home with a delightful high ball, rolling down the years of the famous “CBD”.

But in the end, the game couldn’t be decided in regulation nor in extra time as Sundowns prevailed in the lottery of penalties. The two teams will take positives from this tightly contested encounter heading to their respective league openers next weekend.

@Mihlalibaleka

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