Slick Sundowns samba past Usuthu in knockout contest
Mamelodi Sundowns' South American trio of Ali Meza, Gaston Sirino and Mauricio Affonso turned their first- round Telkom Knockout clash against AmaZulu into a samba as they played a hand in the 5-0 demolition in Pretoria yesterday.
Sirino grabbed a brace while Meza and Affonso got one each and Mario Booysen scored an own goal as the Brazilians advanced to the last eight of the competition.
At half-time there was a glimmer of hope for Usuthu and a level of respectability to the scoreline, but that changed in the second period.
Sirino troubled the opposition defence with his nifty footwork and unrestrictive position behind the strikers. Central defender Tapelo Xoki tried all he could to contain the Uruguayan but he was proving to be a difficult customer.
The Downs technical team could be onto something with the strike partnership of the Venezuelan Meza and Thapelo Morena. The two industrious players were all over the Usuthu defence and allowed teammates into the game.
The opening goal came precisely because of their ability to play off each other. Sirino delivered the ball to winger Themba Zwane who unselfishly gave the ball to Meza who tapped the ball home seconds before the interval.
Booysen chose the wrong day to make his debut for the KZN club. In the 55th minute he was forced into an error. Andile Jali lobbed the ball into the air and Booysen, in attempting to head the ball back to his goalkeeper Niel Boshoff, found the back of his own net.
Morena won a penalty which Sirino easily converted in the 71st minute. Soon after, the diminutive Sirino took a snapshot on the edge of the box in the 78th minute that beat Boshoff. Affonso scored his first domestic goal for Downs in the 87th minute.
Meanwhile, Highlands Park advanced to the quarterfinal draw after a hard-fought 6-5 penalty-shootout victory over spirited Black Leopards at Tembisa's Makhulong Stadium yesterday. The teams had been tied 0-0 after a tough 120 minutes of play.