Johannesburg — “Operation Take Over The Calabash” didn’t go according to plan for champions Mamelodi Sundowns as they were held to a 1-all draw by Kaizer Chiefs in a euphoric league encounter at a cold FNB Stadium on Sunday evening.
In fact, the Brazilians were lucky to escape with a point here as Keagan Dolly missed a penalty that could have sealed all three points for Chiefs later in the game.
Chiefs who had the better chances late in the game, will feel hard-done with the draw as their chances of qualifying for continental football next season also took a huge knock.undefined
Chiefs remained fourth on the log with 43 points, two behind the third-placed Royal AM who have a game in hand. Sundowns, meanwhile, have 62 points at the top of the league standings.
Despite being on course to endure a seventh successive barren season, Chiefs still uphold the values of sportsmanship as they created a nostalgic atmosphere before kick-off, giving the champions a guard of honour.
But the somewhat 3500 spectators that braved the chilly Calabash were hoping that the two teams would produce a blockbuster encounter.
Well, that appeared to be the case after the first whistle, with Sundowns customary happy to build from the back as they came out of the blocks, while Chiefs accelerated play in the final third.
In the midst of all the duels, Chiefs’ focal point relied on the famous ‘CBD’ (Castro, Billiat and Dolly) who made a name for themselves when they donned the yellow and green shirt of Sundowns many moons ago.
It was a member of its gang, Keagan Dolly, that was first to test the waters, the left-footer hitting the side netting after being put through by Leonardo Castro.
Chiefs continued to surge forward, looking for the breakthrough. But they were unlucky as Khama Billiat also put his sliding effort wide after a curling pass in front of goal from Castro.
Chiefs dominated as far as taking shots at goal was concerned, having Cole Alexander put a snippet wide, but the fruits of Sundowns’ patience were starting to burst into life midway the first half.
And that was when Sundowns’ real threat at goal really came as Peter Shalulile rose high in the box before connecting with Aubrey Modiba’s cross as his bullet header forced a smart save from keeper Bruce Bvuma.
With no thrill of goals in the first half, Chiefs entertainment department unleashed Amapiano artist Sir Trill at half-time to create an ambiance ahead of a sought-after second half.
While Chiefs may have organised Sir Trill, it was Sundowns that produced the thrill early in the second half. And boy was it special!
Khuliso Mudau unleashed a diagonal weighted pass that dipped towards that path of Aubrey Modiba side who fired a first time shot that sailed into the bottom corner to send the Brazilians’ faithful to frenzy as smoke of green burst into life from the far stand.
Sundowns continued to surge forward in search of a double as they made inroads in Chiefs’ final third, but they failed to get the better of the home side’s defence that stood firm.
With Chiefs’ faithful looking dead, as the clock was winding down, they were resurrected by Phathutshedzo Nange piledriver that he sneaked out of nowhere to beat Reyaad Pieterse at his near-post.
There was a nail-biting finish to the game, with Chiefs’ faithful cheering their team on with every foray, while the Brazilians faithful looked despair after losing their lead.
And that nearly paid off as Chiefs found a penalty after Kgaogelo Sekgota was fouled in the box. Dolly took the responsibility, forcing Pieterse to a double save from the initial kick and rebound as the two teams shared the spoils.