Late Makgalwa goal sends Sundowns into Nedbank Cup semis
JOHANNESBURG – A brilliant solo-run by Keletso Makgalwa parted Highlands’ defence like the red sea and took Sundowns closer to the promised land that is the Nedbank Cup final. The Brazilians picked themselves up from their elimination in the CAF Champions League a week to turn the Absa Premiership fight into an interesting one by edging closer to Kaizer Chiefs, and last night they advanced to the semifinal of the country’s premier cup competition.
But they were made to sweat for it in the Nedbank Cup against a stubborn Highlands team that was up for the fight. The riot act that coach Owen da Gama read his players after their poor showing against SuperSport United worked wonders when another Tshwane giant visited them. Da Gama was incensed after the 2-0 loss Highlands suffered here at the hands of Matsatsantsa a Pitori on Sunday.
The former Bafana Bafana assistant coach slammed his players for having what he termed “amateur attitude” and went on to threaten that those who don’t shape up might be shipped out at the end of the season. Da Gama made five changes from the team that lost to SuperSport.
The changes were effective as the hosts took the fight to Sundowns and dominated them for the large part of this game. The Brazilians did most of the chasing with Highlands taking the initiative in front of a sold-out crown.
The start of the first half was delayed for three minutes with a hole in the post that Tapuwa Kapini manned. A bulky Highlands’ official had to sprint to fix the hole to ensure that start of play isn’t delayed by much. He might as well have not bothered with no goal scored in those posts in two hours of football in this intense clash. The closest anyone came to finding a goal there was when Lyle Lakay bent the ball, beating the wall and Kapini but not the woodwork.
Full-time from Makhulong Stadium!🙌— Mamelodi Sundowns FC (@Masandawana) March 14, 2020
Downs advance to the semi-finals after overcoming a resilient Highlands Park side after an extra-time goal from Makgalwa!👆
Highlands Park 0️⃣➖1️⃣ Mamelodi Sundowns (115' Makgalwa)
#Sundowns #DownsLive #NedbankCup2020 pic.twitter.com/lWYYFTpFtS
The hosts looked deadly on the onset. Denis Onyango had to produce a brilliant save to deny Peter Shalulile after a well-worked move. Goalscoring opportunities were limited in what was a tough physical battle. That suited Highlands well because instead of having technically gifted players like Sundowns, they have warriors who fight with all they have.
The longer the match dragged on, the more it took a toll on Sundowns’ players who have had a hectic season due to their Champions League commitments.
Pitso Mosimane mentioned before the game that whatever happens, he wants things to be sorted out in 90 minutes as they have a tough encounter against Orlando Pirates at Loftus Versfeld on Tuesday. Mosimane didn’t get his wish with the match going to extra-time and Highlands giving them a bruising battle. Mosimane anticipated that, and chose to rest Andile Jali, Themba Zwane and Gaston Sirino.
Despite resting that trio, Sundowns still had enough firepower to get past the Lions of the North in their own backyard – a venue where not many teams come out alive. Sundowns not only lived to tell the tale but after their bruising battle they are also starting to believe that the Telkom Knockout will not be the only trophy they will lift this season.
Results at the Makhulong Stadium
Highlands Park 0
Mamelodi Sundowns (0) 1