Sundowns blow it

DEADLOCK:  Siyabonga Ngubane of Mamelodi Sundowns is challenged by Matthew Rusike of Jomo Cosmos. photo: BackpagePix
DEADLOCK: Siyabonga Ngubane of Mamelodi Sundowns is challenged by Matthew Rusike of Jomo Cosmos. photo: BackpagePix

Mamelodi Sundowns (0) 0

Jomo Cosmos (0) 0

MAMELODI Sundowns squandered an opportunity to keep up the pace against other Absa Premiership title contenders with a goalless draw against Jomo Cosmos yesterday.

These are the games the current log leaders will remember when they face tougher battles against Kaizer Chiefs, Orlando Pirates and Supersport United in the second half of the season.

After 17 premiership encounters, Sundowns are top of the table with 35 points, three ahead of SuperSport and Chiefs.

Perhaps Sundowns would have preferred to get the full points against Cosmos instead of fancying their chances on Friday when they take on Moroka Swallows, who were beaten 3-0 by Chiefs on Saturday evening.

Cosmos on the other hand, will feel they did enough to hold on to a draw and stay above bottom-placed Black Leopards at this point. Leopards have 10 points, while Cosmos have one more.

Sundowns coach Johan Neeskens had no intention of fixing what wasn't broken, making only one forced change by bringing on Jabulani Shongwe for the suspended Punch Masenamela at left back.

Sundowns used wingers Lebohang Mokoena and Elias Pelembe to try break through the solid Cosmos defence but hit a wall in the opening minutes of the clash. When they did find the space and caught Ezenkosi napping, goalkeeper and man-of-the-match Avril Phali denied Sundowns grabbing the lead. In the 17th minute, Themba Zwane broke free on the right wing to whip in a cross in the Cosmos box.

However, Gladwin Shitolo acrobatically cleared the ball before striker Katlego Mphela could get to it. The scorching heat also made it difficult for the game to flow. Cosmos hardly had a shot at goal until the 35th minute when Matthew Rusike's tame shot didn't trouble Wayne Sandilands and the keeper made an easy save. Before that came the best two moments of the first half. Phali, who had been outstanding for Cosmos for the better part of the match, was again involved when he produced two brilliant saves a minute apart.

In the 42nd minute, Mphela set up the on-rushing Mokoena - and with the crowd convinced the latter's attempt had found the back of the net - Phali pulled out all the stops to push it out for a corner kick. Hardly a minute later, Zwane also popped up outside the box and tried to trick Phali with a curling shot, but the former Bafana keeper again denied Sundowns.

In another Premiership game yesterday, Ajax Cape Town beat Maritzburg United 2-0 after a goalless first half.