‘Red card spoiled my game’: Johnson on Chiefs’ huge defeat to champs Sundowns

Sazi Hadebe Sports reporter
Mamelodi Sundowns players celebrate during their DStv Premiership win against Kaizer Chiefs at FNB Stadium in Johannesburg on Thursday night.
Mamelodi Sundowns players celebrate during their DStv Premiership win against Kaizer Chiefs at FNB Stadium in Johannesburg on Thursday night.
Image: Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Images

Cavin Johnson cut a forlorn figure as he attempted to explain what might have been after Kaizer Chiefs suffered one of their most humiliating defeats being thrashed 5-1 at home against Mamelodi Sundowns on Thursday night. 

The win saw Sundowns confirmed the 2023-2024 DStv Premiership champions, clinching their record-extending seventh successive title in a campaign in which Amakhosi are going to their ninth season without silverware. 

The last two times Chiefs conceded five goals at home was against AmaZulu in 1986 and Orlando Pirates in 1990.

Johnson, though, said Thursday's loss was partly due to referee Abongile Tom incorrectly sending off defender Given Msimango in the 19th minute for a foul on Sundowns striker Lucas Ribeiro.

Tom missed an infringement on Msimango's partner in Chiefs' defence, Thathayoane Dithlokwe, by Sundowns attacker Thembinkosi Lorch before the ball landed with Ribeiro, who was through on goal when he was brought down.

“The red card spoiled my game in one moment,” Chiefs' interim coach Johnson said. “I don't know if it was a red card — I still have to look at that.”

Johnson's side managed to stop Sundowns from scoring before the break but Chiefs fell apart in the second half when they conceded goals from Tashreeq Matthews (52nd and 82nd minutes), Matias Esquivel (56th), Ribeiro (90th) and Lorch (94th). 

“Their first goal was a foul for us, if you look at it. There's a foul on the right-hand side [Lorch on Dithlokwe] and the referee points the other way. From that moment they go to the other side and they score.

“That really breaks your players too sometimes because that's the achilles heel that it takes out of us because we're one man down and the foul actually belongs to Kaizer Chiefs.

“But in saying that, we had to defend better in the second half, which we didn't do. But my main bone of contention is the first goal scored against us.

“We have to go back to the drawing board and we have to pull up our socks because the Chiefs you saw in the last 15 minutes is not the Chiefs I know or coach. We're disappointed and we're going to fix it.”

Chiefs had no answer to Sundowns' incisive attacking momentum in the second half and were lucky to be awarded a soft penalty by Tom for substitute Mduduzi Shabalala to beat Denis Onyango from the penalty spot and make the score 3-1 in the 85th.   

Chiefs are still placed eighth despite suffering 11 losses and conceding 25 goals this season. They face TS Galaxy in Polokwane on Tuesday before their final three matches against AmaZulu (away), Polokwane City (home) and Cape Town Spurs (away).

Johnson said finishing in the top eight is the last hope for the club in another disappointing season for the former giants of South African football. 

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