JOHANNESBURG – Jeremy Brockie almost popped a vein on his neck from his wild scream that followed the New Zealand striker scoring his first goal for Sundowns on Saturday.
The “Sniper” found the target after eight hours and 48 minutes on the field in the Brazilians’ colours with no luck as Sundowns beat Kaizer Chiefs 2-1 at the FNB Stadium.
A change of kit here, with both teams changing their colours in the second half, brought a change of fortunes for Brockie, who scored a poacher’s goal.
Anthony Laffor’s shot that hit the post and ricocheted to Brockie’s direction was easily put past Itumeleng Khune by the Kiwi.
Themba Zwane then put distance between Chiefs and Sundowns to give the Tshwane side the Shell Helix Ultra Cup in front of 49 042 fans.
Some Chiefs fans who left after Zwane’s goal didn’t see Bernard Parker’s header that made the scoreline respectable.
But the day belonged to Brockie. Relief was written all over his face as he has struggled to get off the mark at Sundown,s with him and his teammates still trying to get to know each other.
This goal should show Sundowns what they need to do to get the best out of Brockie – just play the ball to him in the box, and he’ll do the rest.
He isn’t that fancy nor does he have much impact when he isn’t in and around the 18-yard area.
Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane rested the players who featured in the Caf Champions League on Tuesday in Lome as they’ll be back in action on Friday night in Atteridgeville.
Oupa Manyisa and Thapelo Morena were the only players in the starting XI who started in the shock 1-0 loss to AS Togo-Port.
Lyle Lakay, at left back, was handed his Sundowns debut, and part of his responsibilities was trying to contain Khama Billiat, who was playing at this venue on the home side for the first time.
The Zimbabwean was closely watched by his former teammates, who know how dangerous he can be.
Billiat almost pounced just before halftime as he popped from the blind-spot to unleash a shot that was saved by Kennedy Mweene in the game’s first real chance.
The most impressive debutant, though, was S’phelele Mkhulise, who was returning on loan from Richards Bay FC in the first division.
Sundowns were the more dominant side as they have returned to competitive football, even though the side they put up was a relative B team.
Amakhosi weren’t that far off, with the players eager to impress new coach Giovanni Solinas.
The Italian wasn’t on the bench as his work permit hasn’t been sorted.
Patrick Mabedi continued to act as the interim coach, a post he has held since Steve Komphela’s resignation in April.
There was an element of caution in both these teams’ approach at first because they will start against each other in the Absa Premiership on August 4.
No one wanted to be badly exposed nor show all their cards, as both sets of fans always demand wins, even in pre-season.
But the matched opened up after Brockie’s goal. Sundowns wanted to consolidate their lead and Amakhosi fought to come back.
This match showed the depth Sundowns have, and how much Chiefs playmakers need to start being effective if they are to get the most of what is a good attack.
Last season Chiefs struggled to score consistently mainly because the strikers didn’t get the right supply.
Siphiwe Tshabalala was their saving grace in that department, with his assists making Ryan Moon shine.
Chiefs can’t only rely on him, which means players like Siphelele Ntshangase, Kabelo Mahlasela and Hendrick Ekstein must step up.