Mamelodi Sundowns joint head coaches Manqoba Mngqithi and Rulani Mokwena could not have asked for a better way to start their Premiership title defence with a 3-0 victory over rivals Kaizer Chiefs at FNB Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
AS IT HAPPENED | Kaizer Chiefs 0-3 Mamelodi Sundowns
After a shocking defeat against Bloemfontein Celtic last weekend in an MTN8 quarter final encounter, Mngqithi and Mokwena, along with senior coach Steve Komphela, got the response from their players they would have wanted.
But it took a while for the Brazilians to find their rhythm as Amakhosi began the match far better than the defending champions.
In the third minute Gavin Hunt's charges launched a quick counter attack as Khama Billiat found space and hit a powerful shot towards goal that was dealt with by Denis Onyango.
Chiefs continued to see most of the ball possession, but the Brazilians’ stubborn defence did not falter to allow any further serious threat on goal.
On the 15th minute, that persevering defence allowed Sundowns to get their first real strike on goal.
Hlompho Kekana found himself in unknown territory on the right flank and his attempted cross caught the Glamour Boys' captain Itumeleng Khune slightly off guard. The swerving cross went in the direction of the goal which sawe the 33-year-old goalkeeper punched the ball out to safety.
Five minutes later, Khune was again in the action as he attempted to chase and clear some danger, but his failed attempt saw the ball bounce beyond him and headed for the back of the net. However, Ramahlwe Mphahlele ensured that the score remained goalless managed to clear the ball in time.
It was newly signed Sundowns striker Peter Shalulile that opened the scoring for the visitors eight minutes from half-time.
The goal came after Khune mistimed his attempted clearance from a corner-kick and the Namibian star forward beat Daniel Cardoso to the ball to head the Brazilians into the lead.
Khune complained to the referee as he felt he was impeded by Themba Zwane, but the goal stood as Sundowns managed the rest of the half well enough to for a 1-0 lead at the break.
At the start of the second half, Hunt opted to take off the hard-working midfielder Willard Katsande and introduced the youthful Njabulo Blom as Sundowns kept the same eleven.
The visitors then doubled their lead eight minutes into the half, as Kermit Erasmus scored his debut goal for the club.
The former Cape Town City striker made the most of Khune’s save from Zwane’s attempt at scoring and Erasmus put the ball into the bottom left corner with precision to give Sundowns a two-goal lead.
Soon after, the Sundowns coaching staff brought on fresh legs with Erasmus taken off and Lebohang Maboe getting a run out on the Soccer City surface.
Chiefs also rang the changes with Bernard Parker and Lebogang Manyama coming off for Siphelele Ntshangase and Happy Mashiane.
Sundowns had the chance to extend their lead but Cardoso made a well-timed tackle on Zwane who failed to pull the trigger early.
More fresh legs joined the fray, as Haashim Domingo was introduced for Shalulile and captain Kekana was given a breather to allow George Maluleka to finally make his Masandawana debut.
Hunt then went all out and took off Leonardo Castro and Reeve Frosler to introduce 17-year-old Keletso Sifama and Lebohang Lesako.
Recently crowned 2019/20 PSL Football of the Season Zwane, slotted the third goal from the penalty spot as Khune brought down his former Chiefs team-mate Maluleka to ensure Sundowns maximum points.
Kaizer Chiefs XI: Khune (c), Frosler, Cardoso, Mphahlele, Sasman, Katsande, Manyama, Ngcobo, Billiat, Castro, Parker.
Substitutes: Bvuma, Baccus, Ntshangase, Zulu, Ngezana, Mashiane, Blom, Sifama, Lesako
Mamelodi Sundowns XI: Onyango, Morena, Lakay, Nascimento, Madisha, Jali, Coetzee, Kekana (c), Erasmus, Zwane, Shalulile.
Substitutes: Mweene, Mudau, Lebusa, Maluleka, Mvala, Modiba, Domingo, Mkhulise, Maboe.