Sundowns’ surprise win cracks title race wide open

2014-04-06 08:18

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Any team that comes to the FNB Stadium and beats Kaizer Chiefs in their own backyard deserves to be taken seriously as true title contenders.

This is what Mamelodi Sundowns achieved here last night as they inflicted Chiefs’ first defeat at home this season?–?a result that means there is a long way to go before this season’s title is decided.

It was a bad day for the Soweto giants as they succumbed to Pretoria sides yesterday?–?Orlando Pirates lost to SuperSport United earlier in the day.

Chiefs had no business to concede an easy goal but Teko Modise’s long ball deceived everyone and beat Itumeleng Khune, who should have done better to stop it in the 76th minute.

This gave Sundowns three valuable points which place them level on points with log leaders Chiefs. Downs have been on a roll lately as this was their sixth win on the trot and they will not go down without a fight. If anything, this victory should spur them on in the remaining five fixtures.

As for Chiefs, it was clear that they missed Knowledge Musona, who missed the game through injury as his were missed in the game.

Amakhosi were the better side and will feel hard done by?–?they have no one but themselves to blame after fluffing their chances. Creating chances is one thing but converting them is another and this is where Chiefs were found wanting.

The first half was evenly balanced albeit with limited chances to both sides.

Sundowns started the more aggressive side as they took the game to the hosts?–?this prompted a quick response from Chiefs.

Sundowns’ game plan was simple?–?they had targeted Siboniso Gaxa’s side, where Lebohang Mokoena was operating, as they launched all their attacks from this right side.

Mokoena, who has been a livewire since recovering from the hip injury that kept him out of the game for almost 18 months, was a constant threat to Chiefs’ rearguard.

He forced the returning Chiefs goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune into a fine save early in the game as the goalkeeper tipped the ball over the crossbar for the first corner of the game in the 11th minute.

Khune was once again called into action by Mokoena but he was equal to the task as he denied the midfielder a goal.

On the other side of the field, Chiefs also had their chances and Kennedy Mweene twice came to Downs’ rescue. Downs suffered a blow on the stroke of half-time when they lost the services of Mzikayise Mashaba to an injury and the left-back was replaced by Tebogo Langerman, who looked rusty in the second half.

Kingston Nkhatha wasted a glorious opportunity to put his side in the lead when his ball narrowly missed the target with Mweene well-beaten.

And they were made to rue their chances when the visitors snatched a famous 1-0 victory.

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