SuperSport United 0
Mamelodi Sundowns (1) 1
Peter Mokaba Stadium, Limpopo - Hopless and in desperate need of a turnaround in the Premiership, Mamelodi Sundowns on Saturday achieved what most would have laughed off as a joke as they reached the Telkom Knockout final where they will face either Free State Stars or Bloemfontein Celtic who will face-off ton Sunday.
The Brazilians, bottom of the table in the league after 10 rounds of matches, held on doggedly after taking a first-half lead through Eleazar Rodgers to overcome city rivals SuperSport United here on Saturday night and reach the final, which gives them an opportunity to end a four-year trophy drought.
While coach Johan Neeskens may not rate this as his side’s most enterprising display in a campaign filled with more downs than ups, the Dutchman will be pleased that his men managed to keep their third straight clean sheet in a gutsy performance, keeping out a determined SuperSport side who had a few chances towards the end to take the game to extra time.
Sundowns made a fairly good start and capitalised on a mistake by SuperSport rightback Grant Kekana, who gave the ball away while on the run down the flank.
Downs’ Anthony Laffor went on the counter, beat Matsatsantsa captain Thabo September before playing in a splendid ball which Rodgers slotted into the roof of the net.
Distraught after giving away a ball which led to Sundowns’ solitary goal, an absent-minded Kekana almost scored an own goal when his attempt at a back pass nearly beat his goalkeeper Ronwen Williams, but the youngster was quick to react as he held tightly onto the ball on the line.
Sundowns pushed forward in an effort to double their lead before half-time and had it not been for the brilliance of Williams in the Matsatasantsa goal, Tebogo Langerman’s long range effort five minutes before the half-hour mark would have extended Downs’ lead.
The likes of Thabiso Nkoana and Sibusiso Zuma had shots at goal in the first stanza, but both could not beat Sundowns shot-stopper Wayne Sandilands.
No doubt the better side in the first half, Sundowns seemed eager to get on with the second half as they walked out of the tunnel first, led by captain Teko Modise.
And it was the visitors who had the first chance of the second stanza but again they were denied by the brilliance of Williams, the best player on the pitch last night.
Williams made a save off a Jabulani Shongwe shot eight minutes into the second half and pulled off another late on when Laffor unleashed a shot that he pushed out for a corner.
Modise should have sealed the deal in stoppage time for Sundowns, but he shot over the bar despite Williams being off his line.
That was not the end of the drama, though. SuperSport defender Mor Diouf struck the upright with just seconds remaining, wasting a good opportunity to get his side back into the game.
Sundowns were relieved as referee Jerome Damon blew the final whistle after that let-off.