Mamelodi Sundowns will be wary of a stubborn Golden Arrows side
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Kaizer Chiefs ended Mamelodi Sundowns’ 21-game unbeaten run this season during their 50th meeting in the Premiership on Sunday, but both teams will be equally desperate for wins when they clash with Chippa United and Golden Arrows respectively today.
After smashing Chiefs’ record of 20 games unbeaten in a league season, Sundowns looked invincible heading into the last nine games of the season. But that was before they welcomed Chiefs to Pretoria on Sunday.
Not only did they choke in the last 20 minutes of the game, after Gaston Sirino’s strike late in the first half had put them ahead, but they also lost for the first time in the league game this season, keeping the lead between them and second placed AmaZulu to three points.
Sundowns will host Abafana Bes’thende, who have played two games more, with much to prove. Sundowns remain one of the most tactical teams in the top flight, with a style of play that is a pleasure to watch.
They make everything look seamless, with their interplay finding their strikers comfortably. And that’s why Peter Shalulile has fitted like a glove in the team, scoring 16 goals and registering eight assists in all competition this season.
But against Chiefs they barely hit top gear, with Sirino covering most of the yards. And he probably would have walked away with the man-ofthe-match award – ahead of Njabulo Blom – had Sundowns won.
In Arrows they will meet a stubborn team who like to bombard the midfield, opting to find chief striker Knox Mutizwa with through balls. That has worked for the Lamontville team who are arguably on course to record their best finish in the league.
Chiefs, on the other hand, proved to be masters of long balls and set pieces last season. But that hasn’t gone according to plan this campaign, with Lebogang Manyama failing to find the head of striker Samir Nurkovic.
The Serb, with his tireless running and being a nuisance up front for Chiefs did enough to earn his side an equaliser against Sundowns after his shot in front of his goal took a huge defection off Mosa Lebusa before beating Denis Onyango.
But perhaps most of the credit should go to Dumisani Zuma who received a delightful through ball from Blom on Sunday. It was not a typical Chiefs goal – but coach Gavin Hunt was pleased as his team went ahead for the first time.
Chiefs may have to come up with a better plan against Chippa, who find themselves in the relegation zone.
The tactical switch by owner Siviwe Mpengesi, who fired Dan Malesela replacing him with Siyabulela Gwambi, hasn’t paid dividends.
Gwambi won the Nedbank
Cup semi-final against GladAfrica Championship team Pretoria Callies, but he will know that he has to save the club from relegation or else he’ll be replaced with newly-appointed technical director Vladislav Heric.