Aces stun Sundowns

2013-12-04 22:47

An undaunted and disciplined Black Aces aced Premier League leaders Mamelodi Sundowns to secure a memorable 1-0 win at a rain-soaked Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit.

It was Sundowns' second defeat in three games against promoted teams in the lower regions of the PSL after also suffering a humbling defeat against Polokwane City by a similar margin.

In the process, it gave a hollow ring to the boast of Sundowns' coach Pitso Mosimane that "we are the greatest", reducing the lead of the log leaders to two points over defending champions Kaizer Chiefs from the same number of games.

The victory, which moves Aces from 12th position in the log to ninth, was achieved via a 10th minute goal from the probing Clifford Mulenga, who took advantage of a defence-splitting pass from Thabo Qalinge – ruled as the "Man of the Match" for an impressive all-round performance.

The Sundowns defence, however, was hopelessly out-of-position as Aces grabbed the initiative and took advantage of a misdirected off-side trap.

But it was in defence that Aces truly showed their mettle in the face of a second-half seige, with goalkeeper Bafana Nhlapo and former Bafana Bafana captain and central defender, Mbulelo "OJ" Mabizela, proving towers of strength as Sundowns desperately probed for an equaliser.

Sundowns' territorial dominance was reflected in a 14-5 advantage of shots and a 15-4 advantage in corners, but they floundered near goal and lacked the sparkle and initiative expected from a team in their lofty position.

Sundowns lost their Dutch-born captain, Alje Schut, through an injury for the second half and Mosimane brought on attacking players in Elias Pelembe and Richard Henyekane in an effort to break Aces' stranglehold.

Much-acclaimed Mozambican international Pelembe has been on the bench for almost the entire season, but his probing skills made little difference in arousing Sundowns from their mundane display.

And when Sundowns came closest to scoring with a scorching 25-metre shot from Teko Modise, Nhlapo did well to parry the ball round the post for a corner.

On three other occasions, sturdy tackles by Mabizela averted danger for Aces and had the small, rain-drenched crowd cheering in appreciation.

"It was only a pity we did not have more spectators present as we continued our heart-warming revival after making a slow start to the season," said veteran Aces and former Bafana coach Clive Barker.

And demonstrating just how well the promoted team have found their feet in the PSL's Premier division is the fact that they lost three and drew one of their first five matches, but have recovered dramatically now with two wins and four draws in an unbeaten six-game streak.

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