PRETORIA – The Brazilians taught the Clever Boys two lessons sandwiched in one 2-0 victory at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday that moved Mamelodi Sundowns a step closer to conquering the country for the third time in five seasons under coach Pitso Mosimane.
“Jingles”, a staunch supporter of continental football, utilised the experience Sundowns have gained from campaigning in the Caf Champions League in the last four seasons.
They managed the game well and controlled their emotions better in an emotionally charged and feisty contest between the outgoing league champions and the front-runners to take the Absa Premiership trophy that spent this season in Milpark.
Wits could also boast such experience had they gone further in the Champions League and Caf Confederation Cup in the last three years.
But Wits crashed out early on all three occasions due to these competitions not registering high in their priorities – except last season where they fought hard but were just not experienced enough in managing matches of this nature, which is why they narrowly lost to the mighty Al-Ahly.
The second lesson that Sundowns taught Wits was completing a double over the Clever Boys with the same score-line, with goals that were scored by composed beings.
It wasn’t surprising that this match was heated due to the bad blood between these two teams, that’s intensified by their competitive edge and the battles they have waged in the last two seasons for top honours.
This time around Sundowns was victorious, and moved closer to winning a record eighth league title in the Premier Soccer League era.
The Chloorkop-based side are six points clear at the summit with four matches to go.
The Brazilians toyed with Wits, who hardly troubled goalkeeper Denis Onyango.
The Ugandan’s opposite number, Darren Keet, worked overtime. He left the pitch fuming at halftime, disgruntled by the officiating, but more importantly the timid fight his teammates put up, which left him vulnerable.
Keet was the only Wits player who showed up, and he was the reason why his team weren’t humiliated with a bigger score.
He produced a number of brilliant saves to deny a rampant Sundowns attack.
Keet stood no chance in the two goals that were created by Percy Tau. On both occasions, Tau pick-pocketed Phumlani Ntshangase before going on a brilliant run to set-up Themba Zwane and Sibusiso Vilakazi.
Zwane and Vilakazi showed great composure to casually pick a spot and score in a congested box against the reigning Goalkeeper of the Season.
Sundowns dominated the match from the onset. They hypnotised Wits with their possession and then hit them once they got into a lull.
The Brazilians pressed Wits with and without the ball to show the different facets of their game – able to put on a show when they want to, but also capable of grafting to manage the game.
Sundowns’ game plan was centred on utilising the composure of Vilakazi and Zwane, who benefited from Tau’s high work-rate and clever runs.
The Clever Boys were left dumbfounded. They were the first team to come back into the pitch for the second half and coach Gavin Hunt made a double switch – eager to rewrite their wrongs and put on a fight in a one-sided contest.
Ntshangase was one of the victims of that double change, ending what was a miserable night for the central midfielder, who was replaced by Granwald Scott. Despite those changes, the score-line remained the same, giving Sundowns an edge in the league race.