DURBAN – Mamelodi Sundowns increased the pressure on themselves by playing out to a 0-0 stalemate against high-flyers Golden Arrows at Loftus Versveld on Wednesday evening.
The result saw Arrows climb up to third on the DStv Premiership table, but crucially, they did their local rivals a massive favour in the title race.
Sundowns entered the game on the back of three games in all competitions, something unusual by their standards and which must be a cause for concern to their die-hard fans.
Downs lack of lack of finesse in front of goal was again on display in the first half, particularly as they were without the presence of star man Peter Shalulile and Gaston Sirino.
Sundowns did not have a single shot on target in the first half whilst Arrows had just one, a tame effort from Knox Mutizwa in the 42nd minute after Seth Parusnath produced a turnover which was easily collected by Sundowns keeper Dennis Onyango.
Neither side could really exert their domination in the first half as there was little to separate them. Both sides failed to penetrate the opposition defences. Two of the most stubborn defences in the league this season appeared to be playing their roles as expected.
Arrows appeared to lose their defensive footing in the 56th minute as Kermit Erasmus exploited their defence, setting up and opportunity for team-mate Themba Zwane to test Arrows keeper Sifiso Mlungwana. Searching for his tenth league goal of the season, Zwane’s shot failed to trouble Mlungwana who has established himself as one of the top keepers in the league.
Nkosinathi Sibisi had an opportunity to put Arrows ahead in the 62nd minute as a corner aimed towards the far-post found him, but he failed to deliver sufficient power to his shot, allowing Onyango to make yet another easy save.
Arrows were creating opportunities but it appeared as though they were experiencing stage freight in front of goal as they failed to get enough power on their shots to trouble the experienced Onyango.
Sundowns performance in the second half was slightly better, though their depleted energy supplies were evident as they could not penetrate the organised Arrows defence despite their efforts.
A question which will be on the minds of many fans will be whether there is going to be a twist in the title race? The pressure will be on Sundowns, especially considering AmaZulu’s recent excellent form under Benni McCarthy.
Masandawana’s remaining fixtures are also not the easiest with potentially tough matches against the likes of Orlando Pirates, SuperSport United, and a final league fixture against Cape Town City still awaiting them.