Sundowns make light work of Chippa United
PRETORIA – Mamelodi Sundowns floored Chippa United 3-0 in an Absa Premiership clash at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday.
As much as the scoreline screamed dominance, it flattered Chippa United who should have been steamrolled by Sundowns in a match that was so one-sided, Denis Onyango’s only challenge was the heat.
The Ugandan goalkeeper was substituted with 15 minutes to go, replaced by Kennedy Mweene, without being tested. But he did complain about pain which is why he came off. The devastating body blows in this encounter landed on the Chilli Boys. The Port Elizabeth side was out thought, out played and out matched. If this match wasn’t captured on TV, there wouldn’t be any evidence that they were indeed here.
The rejuvenated Chippa side that’s starting to embody coach Norman Mapeza’s philosophy was replaced by mannequins who just stood there and did nothing as Sundowns pummelled them. There was no fight or any response from the visitors who were on the back foot minutes into the match.
Nicholus Lukhubeni will watch his first Sundowns’ goal over and over again, especially since he wasn’t even supposed to be here. Lukhubeni got his second start of the season because the club’s two first choice rightbacks were out injured. Thapelo Morena was out due to a fractured ankle and Anele Ngcongca is nursing a groin injury.
This opened the door for the 23-year-old to start, and perhaps show that he can deputise for Ngcongca when the former Bafana Bafana defender regains full fitness as it looks like Morena will be out for the remainder of the season. But instead of showing that he can make a good deputy, Lukhubeni put a storming performance that showed he could even start ahead of Ngcongca. He made good runs going forward, providing Sundowns with width and attacking options. He also scored a stunning goal – 90 seconds into this match – to show his versatility. Lukhubeni stole a misplaced pass by Tercious Malepe in Sundowns’ half, and then went on a solo run before displaying a striker’s finish, brilliantly slotting it pass Veli Mothwa with a well-placed grass cutter. The supporters had hardly settled when they celebrated the goal. Sundowns’ entire bench went to the celebrate with the club’s academy graduate who announced his arrival in style.
Lukhubeni was calm under pressure, bravely playing the ball out of the back instead of aimlessly hoofing it forward. He started the move that was finished by Sibusiso Vilakazi to wrap up the match as a contest. Vilakazi had a simple tap-in after Themba Zwane and Gaston Sirino did all the heavy lifting. Minutes before Vilakazi’s goal Chippa were dealt a double blow – Zwane scoring from the spot kick and Sandile Mthethwa, who brought down Vilakazi in the box, was sent off. The loss of a defender, in a match they were outplayed, compounded the Chilli Boys’ woes. The reigning Absa Premiership champions attacked the Chilli Boys at will. They hit the crossbar twice and had plenty of chances to make this a tennis score.
Luckily for Chippa, not all Sundowns’ players wore their scoring boots. But the Brazilians did manage the game well, showing the championship material that guided them to league glory last season even when they weren’t at their best.