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Advantage Mamelodi Sundowns after late Pavol Safranko goal in MTN8 semi-final

Pavol Safranko of Mamelodi Sundowns celebrates his goal with teammates during their MTN8 semi-final against Golden Arrows. Picture: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

Pavol Safranko of Mamelodi Sundowns celebrates his goal with teammates during their MTN8 semi-final against Golden Arrows. Picture: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

Published Aug 28, 2021

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JOHANNESBURG - Pavol Safranko came off the bench to score a late equaliser for Mamelodi Sundowns to keep their aspirations of winning the MTN8 alive after their 1-1 draw with Golden Arrows in the first leg of their semi-final at a wet and windy Sugar Ray Xulu Stadium.

Despite dominating local football for the last nine years, winning almost all the trophies up for grabs, the Brazilians have not won the top-eight competition since it was renamed 14 years ago.

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However, after bagging the all-important away goal yesterday afternoon in Clermont, Sundowns co-coach Manqoba Mngqithi, who won the title with Arrows in 2009, must be dreaming of another final in the Wafa Wafa Cup, considering that they just need a clean sheet in the second leg to make the final.

The Brazilians came into this match having made five changes to the team that drew with Chippa United in the league on Tuesday afternoon. But they had a nervy start, with goalkeeper Denis Onyango almost handing the home side an early lead.

Onyango made a short pass which was intercepted by Pule Mmodi. But the Arrows’ talisman could not catch out the Ugandan as his shot sailed wide of the target. Arrows, though, didn’t drop their heads as they piled on the pressure in transitional play.

Their efforts paid off. After Sundowns lost possession in their own half, Nqobeko Dlamini collected the loose and created acres of space for himself, dribbling past his makers, before unleashing a hard shot and low shot that sailed into the bottom corner.

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Sure, the surface may have been sticky, something which could have lowered the pace of the game, but Arrows showed that they are used to the conditions: sending attack after attack. One of their attacks resulted in them getting a corner-kick.

But Sasizo Magawana failed to capitalise on the resultant corner-kick after putting his pin-point shot wide. Sundowns though, came out to play. But their carpet football didn’t help their cause, given that Abafana Bes’thende closed the pocket spaces.

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Amid finishing the first half strongly, Sundowns had two chances. Peter Shalulile saw his pin-point header parried away from danger by goalie Sifiso Mlungwana, while the latter also punched Lyle Lakay back into play before his defence regrouped.

The Brazilians started the second half with how they ended the first, sending waves of attack after the other. But the Arrows’ defence stood firm, repelling all the danger. Mlungwana’s reflexes had to be sharp, after he punched another Lakay set-piece.

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But perhaps, it was Onyango who needed the sharpest reflexes after the former Ugandan No. 1 tipped a tricky Velemseni Ndwandwe diagonal effort over the crossbar. But Sundowns, again, finished the half strongly after sending more men forward.

But, again, the reflexes of Mlungwana appeared to have all but come to Arrows rescue. That was before Sundowns' new striker Safranko announced his arrival in the top-flight with a close-range tap-in as the visitors snatched a crucial away goal ahead of the second leg.

@mihlalibaleka

Related Topics:

MTN8Mamelodi Sundowns

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