PRETORIA – It took a team from a city with a water crisis to extinguish the fiery Mamelodi Sundowns (0-1) at Loftus on Tuesday evening.
Masandawana's campaign was picking up momentum and had all the makings of a wildfire.
But just like the small amounts of water in the Mother City, Cape Town City’s victory was just a drop in the bigger scheme of things as Sundowns are still at the summit going into the Christmas break.
The Capetonians did however trim Sundowns’ lead from six points to four, jumping from fifth place to second in the process. Second place is a position higher than where Benni McCarthy took the Citizens from after their impressive debut season under Eric Tinkler.
Finishing the first half of the league in second place will remind the Citizens of what they are capable of and serve as motivation to do even better in the final stretch as they haven’t looked like the second best team in the country due to their inconsistent display.
The Citizens were disciplined defensively and kept their lines well, fully aware that going toe-to-toe with this juggernaut is suicidal. The Brazilians were patient in their build-up trying to bridge the Table Mountain the Capetonians put in front of goalkeeper Sage Stephens.
At times they passed the ball around too much instead of taking a shot. Stephens was up to the challenge when the Brazilians eventually shot from a distance, producing a number of brilliant saves to guarantee his team maximum points.
The visitors absorbed the pressure well and looked deadly on the counter with the attack that was led by Aubrey Ngoma and Nana Akosah-Bempah. The two combined well to give City the lead from a swift counter-attack that was started by Edmilson Dove.
A diagonal pass from to Ngoma left Denis Onyango stranded, caught in two minds on whether he should attack the ball or stay in his line. The Sundowns goalkeeper did bothAkosah-Bempah half-heartedly and didn’t retreat to his line fast enough. Akosah-Bempah punished him by threading the ball past Onyango and Thapelo Morena to open his account with the Citizens.
The Brazilians are a different side to the one that won the Absa Premiership with a record 71 points. That side used to hit their opponents early so that by the time they wake up they are already home and dry and three points are in the bag. This team is more patient. They start slow, pushing their opponents with small jabs before unleashing ferocious knockouts when they are tired.
Sundowns didn’t change their approach even when they were trailing City but that knockout never came.
These two clubs produced a fast-paced game on a slippery pitch that took a lot from players and made some routine tackles look worse than they were. Ngoma was a victim of this. He pulled a hamstring without any contact before the break.
Ngoma’s injury fast-tracked Teko Modise’s introduction in his first match against Sundowns since he switched Chloorkop for the Mother City and revealed that he wasn’t on speaking terms with coach Pitso Mosimane in his last two years at the club. Sundowns’ fans showered Modise with love. A large number of them cheered him off the pitch after the warm up and applauded him as he prepared to replace Ngoma.
The Citizens held on to make it three wins in a row against Sundowns and continue the stranglehold they have over the Brazilians.
Mamelodi Sundowns (0)0
Cape Town City (1)1
For City: Akosah-Bempah 27'