Stalemate at Loftus as Sundowns and Wits play to a goalless draw
PRETORIA – Mamelodi Sundowns and Bidvest Wits shared the spoils after they played to a disappointing 0-0 draw in a Premiership tussle at Loftus Versfeld Stadium on Tuesday night.
Tonight’s result meant that log leaders Kaizer Chiefs will hold a three-point lead at the summit, while they’ll be hoping to make it six when they clash with Highlands Park at FNB Stadium on Wednesday night.
In a match that was expected to produce fireworks, due to either side hoping to close the gap at the top, there was not much to write about as the two astute coaches, Pitso Mosimane and Gavin Hunt, opted for tactical and cautious approaches.
That feat and the eventual result must have been to the dissatisfaction of the supporters, especially with the two teams set to turn their focus to continental football group stage matches in their next assignments.
The Brazilians will welcome ASM Alger on Saturday in the Champions League, while Hunt’s Clever Boys are away to Al-Nasr in the Confederation Cup on Sunday.
And with that said, there is more reason for either side to grab full points largely on the fact that log leaders Chiefs, who celebrated their 50th anniversary on Tuesday, are scheduled to welcome Highlands to their lair, the FNB Stadium, which is expected to be sold out, tomorrow night.
In the opening stages of the encounter, Wits were somewhat the more determined to find the breakthrough as they had an inch of momentum going but that didn’t yield any result as they easily lost possession in the final third.
Much to the disappointment was due to the unavailability of Thabang Monare, who was suspended, was exposed as there was rarely service for Gift Motupa up front, and with the former’s replacement, Patshutshedzo Nange finding himself in no man’s land at most.
When Hashim Domingo tested the waters with a close-range over-kick that skied into the stands, that was the wake-up call the Brazilians needed as they started to become more comfortable on the ball.
Such that the champions should have went to the interval with at least a lead or double had Siphelele Mkhulise and Lebohang Maboe put their shot on target or were not denied by goalkeeper Ricardo Goss.
In the 34th minute, Themba Zwane did well to tee up Mkhulise with a pin-point cross but the 23-year-old midfielder placed his header wide.
With three minutes into the break, Maboe should have saved Mkhulise from the blushes but his well-timed close-range header, that was well set-up by Teboho Langerman, was palmed away from danger by Goss.
The Brazilians picked up where they left off in the first half, at least in the opening stages, as they forced the Clever Boys to defend deep, giving a free-role to play-makers Zwane and Mkhulise.
That eventually forced the visitors to become sloppy, and that’s why Buhlebuyeza Mkhwanazi was forced to an early shower following a second bookable on Mkhulise.
That should have been the lifeline the Brazilians needed as they sent men upfront with ease, but luck proved not to be on their side on the day – with Wits saved by the woodwork or referee Abongile Tom failing to make the necessary calls.
Against the run of play, Andile Jali picked up an unmarked Sibusiso Vilakazi, who created enough space for himself in the box before his curling far-post effort rattled against the upright.
Wits were fortunate to finish the game with 10 men, and earn a draw, as captain Thulani Hlatshwayo should also have been sent off after numerous stamping Mkhulise from behind despite being on a yellow card.
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