An own goal from Mamelodi Sundowns defender Motjeka Madisha in stoppage time ensured that the defending Premiership champions shared the spoils in a 1-1 draw with Chippa United at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.
In a game that was played at a slow pace in Port Elizabeth on Wednesday night, goals from Sundowns’ Madisha and Lebohang Maboe secured a point for each team.
Considering they were only three days back in the country following the first leg’s 2-1 defeat to Otoho d’Oyo in the preliminary round of the Caf Champions League, Sundowns came into this encounter under a bit of strain, while the fatigue was clearly visible.
However, the Brazilians were smart in their approach as they had to restore some of their energy for the gruelling weekend clash in the MTN8 quarter-final against Bloemfontein Celtic.
Debutant Sammy Seabi, who played in front of his team’s defence, absorbed the pressure for his side as he played as the link between the back four and engine room.
However, while Sundowns were relatively slow in the build-up, they easily allowed the Chilli Boys to be quick to close the shop, dealing with all the danger early in the first half.
But while the Brazilians were still calm and navigating their way through Chippa’s defence, the hosts used speedsters Thabo Rakhale and Rhulani Manzini to keep their opponents’ defence on their toes.
Rakhale should have created his team’s real opportunity mid-way through the first half, but his pinpoint delivery was easily intercepted by the alert Denis Onyango.
Sundowns, however, quickly extinguished the baptism of fire that the Chilli Boys were starting to stoke, with Sibusiso Vilakazi unleashing a thunderbolt that went inches wide of goal, despite having goalkeeper Tingyemb worried.
Coach Pitso Mosimane’s troops were starting to gain momentum, and their patience paid off as Lebohang Maboe pounced, the Brazilians’ faithful forgiving him for the missed opportunity earlier.
After a great interchange between Hlompo Kekana and Themba Zwane in the defensive line, Masandawana teed up an unmarked Maboe, who unleashed a grass-cutter that sailed into Tingyemb’s bottom corner.
In the 51st minute, the Brazilians should have grabbed their second as a delightful Keletso Makgalwa corner found an on-rushing Motjeka Madisha, whose dipping header was exceptionally saved by Tingyemb.
Soon after, the home side nearly restored parity, but Onyango proved why he’s Africa’s No 1.
Following a lovely free kick down the flanks, Frederic Nsabiyumva rose the highest in the box before setting up Manzini, whose header was brilliantly blocked for a corner by the Ugandan captain.
From a brilliant save to a missed sitter, that’s how Sundowns’ sad story unfolded on the night.
After a well worked build-up from the right wing, Vilakazi created acres of space for himself inside the box and went one-on-one with Tingyemb before unceremoniously blasting his effort into the stands.
However, with Sundowns on course to snatch all three points back with them to Pretoria, Madisha unfortunately headed into his own net for a goal that undid all their hard work.@Mihlalibaleka