TTM take golden point off Sundowns
CAPE TOWN - Sundowns were left to rue a host of missed opportunities in their goalless draw with DSTV Premiership newcomers Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila at Loftus Versveld on Wednesday evening.
The Premiership champions dominated possession as expected, but failed to find that incisive final pass that could break open the game. Hindsight may always be the best sight, but the Sundowns brainstrust are possibly questioning their decision to omit ace goalpoacher Kermit Erasmus from the match-day squad altogether.
Manqoba Mngqithi and his co-coaches Rhulani Mokwena and Steve Komphela opted for Sphelele Mkhulise in the only change to line-up that thrashed Kaizer Chiefs 3-0 in last weekend’s opener.
Sundowns certainly created enough openings to bury the league’s rookies with Hlompho Kekana fluffing the best chance of the night when the midfielder claimed possession on the edge of the TTM box, but could only blast his shot against the crossbar.
The Brazilians continued to press for the opener with Mkhulise forcing TTM goalkeeper Washington Arubi to make a smart save from close range, while Peter Shalulile could also not capitalise on a neat through ball from Lyle Lakay shortly before the break.
TTM, however, need to be applauded for the manner in which they got men behind the ball in the first half to curb Sundowns’ mighty attacking force. The visitors came with a plan and stuck defiantly to it, before showing in the second half they too have the skill to take the game to the opposition.
They certainly were more adventurous in the second stanza with fullback and Man of the Match Diamond Thopola putting in rangy runs down the touchline to take his team forward.
“It is not easy to come and play Sundowns. We will take it (the draw) and build from it. They pressed us high and we couldn’t play out. We’re happy with the draw and the fact that we didn’t concede,” Thopola said after the game.
“They were looking for the spaces behind us because they are a ball playing team. I’m just glad everyone worked hard for each other.”
TTM coach Joel Masutha was equally pleased with his team’s display against the champions, claiming it’s a “golden point” earned in the nation’s capital.
“Sundowns are not champions for nothing and we need to respect them in certain aspects. Their strength is to press,” Masutha said. “The plan was to try and absorb the pressure because they are a very exciting team. We had to deny them playing in the pockets. They forced us to sit deep, but for me it’s a golden point.”
Although TTM are still searching for their first win in the Premiership, they remain unbeaten after the opening two rounds while Sundowns drop their first points in their last four league matches dating back to last season.
Line-ups at Loftus Versveld:
Denis Onyango, Lyle Lakay (Langerman 69), Ricardo, Rivaldo Coetzee, Thapelo Morena, Motjeka Madisha, Andile Jali, Themba Zwane, Hlompho Kekana (Maluleka 58), Sphelele Mkhulise (Makgalwa 58), Peter Shalulile (Mudau 81)
Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila:
Washington Arubi, Lehlohonolo Nonyane, Diamond Thopola, Alfred Ndengane, Lebohang Mabotja, Miguel Timms, Mogakolodi Ngele, Lerato Lamola, Meshack Maphangule, Justin Shonga (Nevhulamba 86), Celimpilo Ngema