Slick SuperSport United bring Mamelodi Sundowns back down to earth
SuperSport United brought Mamelodi Sundowns back to earth with a crushing 2-0 defeat on Wednesday night, which came just after they annihilated Caf’s Club of the Century, Al-Ahly, to reach the semi-finals of the Caf Champions League.
Matsatsantsa a Pitori beat their Tshwane rivals for the first time in the league since 2013.
Ghampani Lungu, who put the final nail in Sundowns’ coffin after Grant Kekana’s opening goal, was still in high school as a 15-year-old the last time SuperSport won this fixture.
The highly-rated Zambian, who is now 20 years old, helped Matsatsantsa end a long barren run against their more successful neighbours.
SuperSport’s win gave Orlando Pirates a big boost in their Premiership ambitions as Sundowns were not only held back, but also dropped from second to third place due to Wits having a superior goal difference.
But Sundowns are still in the league race as they trail Pirates by six points with two games in hand.
Those games in hand are against Baroka FC and Chippa United.
If Sundowns play like they did on Wednesday night, it will take a miracle for them to catch up with the Buccaneers.
Sundowns didn’t show up here. They lacked aggression to penetrate SuperSport.
Ronwen Williams was hardly troubled in his goal.
A more tactically organised SuperSport looked nothing like the whipping boys in blue Sundowns are accustomed to facing and demolishing in the Tshwane Derby.
Matsatsantsa a Pitori were up to the fight in a match they have finished on the losing side so often that the Brazilians started seeing them as their daily bread.
There were some who were joking that Sundowns were already three points behind Pirates, because getting maximum points in this fixture was a foregone conclusion for Pitso Mosimane’s men.
But with his former player on the other end, Kaitano Tembo – who captained Mosimane’s SuperSport – the script was flipped, and SuperSport made this a contest.
They didn’t allow Sundowns to boss proceedings like they normally do in the derby of the country’s capital.
Matsatsantsa frustrated Sundowns with their solid defence.
SuperSport knew that Sundowns will look to take the initiative as they came into this match trailing log-leaders Pirates.
This match was one of those games in hand, which is why Mosimane barked instructions like crazy – urging his team to close that gap and earn Tshwane bragging rights.
Just not our night, Downs suffer only their 3rd loss of the Absa Premier League campaign as we will look to bounce back from this loss this weekend. #Sundowns #DownsLive #DownsSupersport #AbsaPrem pic.twitter.com/HEDNedTbd5— Mamelodi Sundowns FC (@Masandawana) April 17, 2019
But Sundowns lacked explosiveness after their gruelling trip from Egypt, where they eliminated Al-Ahly in the quarterfinals of the Champions League.
Mosimane refreshed the team a bit, bringing fresh legs while resting players like Denis Onyango and Lebohang Maboe, who have been influential in the march to reach the semi-finals of the Champions League.
Those changes hurt Sundowns. The Brazilians were pedestrian in their approach against opponents who were hungrier for a win.
SuperSport’s smart defending nullified Sundowns’ attacking strength.
The Brazilians were flat, looking threatening in flashes instead of launching wave after wave of attacks.
Emiliano Tade cut an isolated figure upfront, with not much support from his teammates.
This win will give SuperSport confidence in their fight to sneak into the league race, as no one is paying attention to them.