Sky’s the limit for table-topping Sundowns!


DURBAN – The Absa Premiership title tale took another twist after Mamelodi Sundowns beat Golden Arrows 2-0 in KwaMashu on Friday night and took over the lead atop the standings. 

Two second-half goals from Hlompho Kekana and Motjeka Madisha powered the Brazilians to a fifth win on the trot. In the process they fired in 11 unanswered goals, and avenged their last defeat against Arrows. 

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Hlompho Kekana lets rip with a trademark thunderbolt against Arrows. Kekana opened the scoring for Sundowns. Photo: Samuel Shivambu, BackpagePixMotjeka Madisha beats Andile Fikizolo of Golden Arrows in the air. Madisha grabbed the second goal for Sundowns with an excellent header. Photo: Samuel Shivambu, BackpagePixPercy Tau is upended by Romario Dlamini of Golden Arrows on Friday. Photo: Samuel Shivambu, BackpagePix

More significantly, it ensured that Sundowns went to the summit on 50 points from 24 matches, one above Cape Town City with a game in hand.

Sundowns have six matches left to play compared to the Citizens, who face Maritzburg United on Monday afternoon.

For a side that have been campaigning in various competitions domestically and internationally, Sundowns for a change managed to stick with the same line-up that started their last game, a 2-0 home win over Ajax Cape Town. 

Another rarity was the venue hosting a jam-packed Friday night match. High-riding Sundowns pulled in the crowd to make for an electric atmosphere as the drums and trumpets kept a lively rhythm, and somehow the teams kept up with it in terms of their performance. 

Arrows kicked off in toe-to-toe fashion, ready to slug it out with the continental and domestic champions.

They might have even profited early when Kudakwashe Mahachi beat Brazilian defender Ricardo Nascimento, who slipped when shielding the ball, but goalkeeper Denis Onyango expertly gravitated to the grounder to win that duel. 

Percy Tau is upended by Romario Dlamini of Golden Arrows on Friday. Photo: Samuel Shivambu, BackpagePix

It was a pretty open affair. Percy Tau dragged an effort low and wide of goalkeeper Nkosingiphile Gumede and the far upright, followed by midfielder Hlompho Kekana attempting one of his missiles that the goalie comfortably parried. 

Attack was the best of defence, seemed the reasoning of home coach Clinton Larsen.

Having got the better of his opponents recently in a Nedbank Cup match, he set out a more go-forward team than usual.

Utility player Wayde Jooste returned on the right wing, Nduduzo Sibiya dazzled on the left touchline, and in the middle, Andile Fikizolo and Mahachi lent support to striker Lerato Lamola. 

The approach saw Arrows enjoy their fair openings of the first half that ended goalless.

Sibiya, scorer of the winner in the cup, danced through the backline midway through the half and set up Mahachi, but the latter blazed his first-time shot over. 

Sundowns had the clearest chance before then. Mzikayise Mashaba had a goal-bound shot headed clear by Arrows’ captain Matome Mathiane as the half ended with Sundowns bossing and having nothing to show for it.

That changed with the introduction of Teko Modise. The veteran midfielder brought greater composure to Sundowns’ play, and they were rewarded with the lead in the 59th minute when Kekana rocketed in a shot from the edge of the box. 

Immediately Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane made a tactical change, with defender Anele Ngcongca replacing Mashaba to stabilise the defence.

Sundowns were last beaten in that cup clash five matches ago, and seemingly learnt their lesson. 

Instead of an open game, the measured approach brought by Modise’s introduction paid off. But it wasn’t before Mahachi fluffed another sitter after Jooste put him through. Again Onyango won the battle. 

Kekana made them pay with the opener – his fourth of the campaign – after that miss, and about 10 minutes later, Modise engineered the insurance goal.

He curled a dipping shot towards the far corner, which Gumede tipped over. 

From the corner kick drilled in by Modise, defender Motjeka Madisha nodded in the second.

After that it was curtains as Arrows struggled to get back into the tie despite the introduction of Malawian international striker Chiukepo Msowoya for the last 20 minutes.

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