‘Giant slayers’ tag short-lived as Mamelodi Sundowns show Chippa United who’s boss

Mamelodi Sundowns coach Rhulani Mokwena. Picture: Khaled Desouki/AFP

Mamelodi Sundowns coach Rhulani Mokwena. Picture: Khaled Desouki/AFP

Published Aug 19, 2023


Rhulani Mokoena’s Mamelodi Sundowns brought Chippa United back down to earh with a 2-0 victory in Gqeberha on Saturday night.

The Friendly City welcomed Sundowns, South Africa’s most dominant football club of recent times, on a chilly and windy evening.

Battle lines were drawn days before the encounter as Chippa United coach Morgan Mammila declared the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium a field where giants are to be brought to their knees following their 1-1 draw with Orlando Pirates at the same venue..

In his usual formal attire - a lime-green two piece tailored suit this time around - Mammila marshalled his troops having made two changes to Tuesday night’s starting XI.

Forwards Thabiso Lebitso and Siphelele Luthuli sat out while Luvuyo Memela and Ronaldo Maarman were slotted into the starting XI in an attempt to boost the home team’s set of attackers.

In the visitors’ camp, coach Mokoena donned a casual outfit for the night, clearly displaying a high level of confidence in his group of players.

Mokoena made two changes to the XI that started mid-week in the 4-0 mauling of Golden Arrows, as Aubrey Modiba and Ribeiro Costa got a nod ahead of the injured Peter Shalulile and Neo Maema.

Mokoena’s inclusion of Modiba in the starting XI proved to be a stroke of genius as the 28-year-old forward netted a stunner just after the half-hour mark of the encounter.

Sundowns came to Gqeberha prepared and it was clear in their quick closing of spaces, often denying the home team room to pierce the defence.

The tactical genius of Mokoena also showed in how Sundowns relentlessly pressed forward and kept unleashing defence piercing passes via Lesiba Nku, Modiba and Costa.

Six minutes after the first goal, Justice Chabalala conceded an own-goal as a result of the never-ending pressure created by the visitors.

On the stroke of halftime, Maarman missed a rare opportunity for the home side, and by that time the visiting coach had already headed for the changeroom as he typically does before the break.

Sundowns maintained their two goal cushion throughout the second half to deny Mammila’s ambitions of converting the ‘Chilli Boys’ into a dominant outfit at home - for now.