Johannesburg — Mamelodi Sundowns overcame SuperSport United in the MTN8 quarterfinal Wednesday after coming from behind.
With the victory, Sundowns kept their title defense going and advanced to the semifinals, where they will face Kaizer Chiefs, AmaZulu, and Orlando Pirates.
Rulani Mokwena and Manqoba Mngqithi, the coaching team for Sundowns, were commemorating their 100th game in charge, hence the victory had special significance for them. It’s back to the drawing board for SuperSport coach Gavin Hunt as they attempt to improve their Premiership record after recently winning their first game last week.
The two clubs entered the game with a lot of confidence after winning their respective league matches on Wednesday. Despite this, Sundowns were the obvious favorites due to their depth, whereas SuperSport depended on youthful players.
Grant Margeman, Ricardo Goss, and Thabang Sibanyoni, who are on loan from Sundowns, are ineligible, which is a setback for SuperSport. Bradley Grobler, who scored the game-winning goal against Richards Bay, led Hunt’s strongest lineup, which he deployed.
But as was to be anticipated, Sundowns dominated play and set the game’s pace owing to Andile Jali’s heroics.
Lyle Lakay and Khuliso Mudau, two wingbacks, were used by Jali to create a back-three defense alongside Brian Onyango and Rushine De Reuck. Contrary to the flow of the game, the MTN8 Last Man Standing was also accessible in midfield, giving Teboho Mokena freedom.
Sundowns was able to play because to their all-around skipper. So much so that when they started to make headway, it wasn’t shocking.
Neo Maema struck the far post of George Chigova’s goal with a thunderbolt from the edge of the penalty area.
The Brazilians kept up their smooth build-up as they attempted to breach the SuperSport wall, which Khuliso Mudau almost managed to achieve. A free man on the wings, Mudau took advantage of his position in front of the goal to hit a strong, low cross that just missed the target.
Sundowns’ problems up front almost cost them the game when Iqraam Rayners caused Ronwen Williams to make an outstanding save.
Williams had emotional turmoil during this game since it was his first time playing against his previous team, where he spent 19 years. Peter Shalulile was the first player to make a threat during the second half for Sundowns, but he directed his danger at the spectators.
Sundowns were so strong that they forced SuperSport to retreat, but their last touch was inadequate as they were unable to get through.
Sundowns avoided danger when defender Onyango’s deflection hit his own upright before rolling back into play. But when Sundowns introduced Macrcello Allende as a fresh face to the fight, the crowd gave him a standing ovation.
The record-breaking Sundowns signing once again shown why he is worth R51million by tucking home from close range and energizing the crowd.
Before fellow replacement and newbie Abubekar Nassir added the cherry on top with a close-range goal to advance Sundowns to the semifinals, that is.