Johannesburg – Kaizer Chiefs coach Stuart Baxter described the 77th minute goal that gave Mamelodi Sundowns a 1-0 win in the top-of-the-log Premiership clash at FNB Stadium on Saturday night as “a joke.”
But it was no laughing matter for the Amakhosi, with Sundowns keeping their prospects and the Premiership title race alive with the resultant shock win over the defending champions and log-leaders.
Modise crossed from 40 metres out on the right flank for what appeared an attempt to centre, but with Chiefs' defender Morgan Gould and goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune, as well as Sundowns substitute Khama Billiat all misjudging the loping ball, it ended up in the back of the net.
“Overall we were the better team in every respect,” Baxter said after the game.
“More skilled, more purposeful, better organised and more solid in defence.
“Then you end up losing by a goal like that. I guess these freak occurrences happen in soccer. What more can I say.”
Modise admitted afterwards that he had meant to centre the ball for the on-rushing Billiat.
“Earlier in the season they beat us with a similar goal,” Modise said.
“So I guess this is poetic justice and evens things out.”
Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane, who promised before the game that Chiefs would not have an easy path to retain their title, was quick to play down his team's chances of lifting the trophy in May.
“I don't want to get carried away,” Mosimane said.
“We won a game, not the championship. Chiefs still have an advantage as things stand. We will carry on fighting and trying to win all our remaining matches Ä and lets see what happens.”
Chiefs are still ahead of Sundowns due to a superior goal-difference and also have a game in hand over their Pretoria rivals.
“This was effectively a game worth six points for the winners,” said Mosimane.
“A defeat for Sundowns would have left Chiefs cruising to retain their title.
“Now excitement and uncertainty will surround Chiefs' last six matches and the five games Sundowns have still to play. It's good for the Premier Soccer League and good for the game.”
A scuffle in the tunnel between the two teams on Saturday night reflected the heated emotions, but there were precious few on-target scoring opportunities from either side.
Mashaba had been one of the few dominant players on the pitch until he suffered a serious leg injury 10 minutes later and was rushed to hospital, with Tebogo Langerman coming on as a replacement.
Sundowns appeared to lose steam and their earlier composure in the second period, with Gould heading onto the crossbar following a Siphiwe Tshabalala corner and Chiefs coming within a whisker of scoring within a matter of seconds later when the ball was cleared off the goalline.
Despite Chiefs' numerous scoring-opportunities, Mosimane said he never doubted his team could get the winning goal.
“I never lost faith in my players and they kept trying and justified my belief.” – Sapa