Sundowns sink leaky, disjointed Amakhosi

Kekana, Shalulile punish poor defending

Sihle Ndebele Journalist
Samir Nurkovic of Kaizer Chiefs challenged by Themba Zwane of Mamelodi Sundowns during the DStv Premiership 2021/22 match between Mamelodi Sundowns and Kaizer Chiefs at Loftus Versfeld Stadium, Pretoria, on 13 September 2021.
Samir Nurkovic of Kaizer Chiefs challenged by Themba Zwane of Mamelodi Sundowns during the DStv Premiership 2021/22 match between Mamelodi Sundowns and Kaizer Chiefs at Loftus Versfeld Stadium, Pretoria, on 13 September 2021.
Image: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

Even with three central defenders, mediocre defending still sank Kaizer Chiefs as a smart Mamelodi Sundowns outwitted them 2-0 at Loftus Versfeld yesterday.

Grant Kekana and Peter Shalulile scored to inspire Sundowns to victory. Substitute Lebogang Manyama missed a penalty that would have given Amakhosi some consolation. Referee Luxolo Badi awarded Chiefs the spot-kick after Rivaldo Coetzee handled the ball inside the box.

With a rare formation of three central defenders in Daniel Cardoso, Eric Mathoho and Austin Dube, the visitors still struggled to clear their lines properly, making a number of schoolboy errors at the back.

Sundowns’ intent to go all out reflected in their line-up as almost all their main attackers in Gaston Sirino, Themba Zwane, Kermit Erasmus and Shalulile started the match.

Despite the lack of creativity and fluidity, Chiefs coach Stuart Baxter saw no need to make changes until Sundowns doubled their lead via Shalulile three minutes post the hour mark.

Chiefs’ first substitution came five minutes after Sundowns’ second goal. To make matters worse, left-back Sibusiso Mabiliso, who was debuting, replaced Dube. Sundowns boxed wisely after Shalulile’s goal, knocking the ball around to wind down the clock.

Chiefs’ defensive fragility was exposed as early as the seventh minute when Kekana outjumped everyone to nod home from a brilliant Lyle Lakay free-kick. Kekana was behind Dube, who looked out of his depth, when he scored, and the Amakhosi centre-back could have easily contained him. One would also argue that goalkeeper Bruce Bvuma must take a fair share of blame for the goal.

While Sundowns were better in ball retention and box entries, Chiefs played in patches in the first half. Keagan Dolly tried to make Chiefs tick but his teammates didn’t do enough to assist him.

Sundowns’ dominance was also boosted by winning the midfield battle, where Andile Jali and Coetzee outshone Cole Alexander and Phathutshedzo Nange. The Chiefs midfield pair wasn’t in its element, failing to break down the Brazilians’ attack and adding  o added no value when Chiefs were attacking.

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