Vries howler hands Sundowns victory over Kaizer Chiefs
Pitso Mosimane ran the length of half a pitch to celebrate Lebohang Maboe’s late goal as Mamelodi Sundowns gate-crashed Kaizer Chiefs’ 49th birthday celebration and then urinated on their most expensive carpet.
With the score deadlocked at 1-1 and both teams looking happy to settle for a point, the Brazilians stole maximum points at the death with a lucky goal by Maboe.
The Sundowns’ midfielder scored in an empty net after Virgil Vries’ made a meal of stopping Lyle Lakay’s lob. As if on cue, the cameraman showed a disappointed Itumeleng Khune on the stands with an arm brace.
Chiefs’ No 1 missed this clash due to an injury which paved the way for the Namibian to start.
Vries had had an uneventful afternoon before that howler. His notable act was picking the ball from the back of the net early into the game after Anthony Laffor gave Sundowns the lead.
Such is the life of the goalkeeper, most of the blame for this loss will go to Vries, even though it should go to Chiefs’ attack.
The hosts dominated Sundowns, with coach Ernst Middendorp winning the tactical battle. But they were made to pay for their missed chances and failure to capitalise on their dominance.
This result showed why Sundowns are the reigning Premiership champions and why Chiefs are searching for their mojo. Sundowns can still scrape a result even when it’s not their day while Amakhosi can’t even get a victory on their best day.
But it wasn’t all doom and gloom for Amakhosi. At face value, Middendorp gave Chiefs a bitter-tasting cake for the 49th birthday they will celebrate tomorrow. But the German is cooking something that could be edible with a few improvements, especially in the final third.
For the better part of this match his team had the upper had against a team that is now unbeaten in 26 league matches. Chiefs responded well to Laffor’s goal by quickly pulling one back through Willard Katsande. But their biggest achievement is how their line-up stifled Sundowns.
Mosimane, a methodological planner, was caught by surprise. Sundowns couldn’t penetrate through the centre and their options were quickly limited on the flanks, forcing the Brazilians to play on the backfoot.
Mosimane gingerly walked off the field at halftime, already planning what he’ll do to counter Middendorp’s plan. He flashed the peace sign, a symbol synonymous with Amakhosi, as he left the pitch.
Chiefs fans didn’t know whether to be angry or delighted with the gesture.
Surprisingly it was German who changed his line-up first even though he won the tactical battle in the first half. Middendorp made a double-switch before the start of the second half, introducing Bernard Parker and Teenage Hadebe in place of Hendrick Ekstein and Godfrey Walusimbi.
The switch worked. Chiefs grew stronger. Parker should have given the home team the lead with a free header but his effort went wide.
Sensing the danger, Sundowns’ fans sang their lungs out to inspire their team. Maboe obliged and gave them a big win.
Mosimane wildly celebrated hearing the final whistle just before the heavens opened up.
Chiefs will be hoping that the large downpour will wash away their misfortunes as they look to turn things around in 2019. If they don’t improve upfront, 2019 will be a lot like the last three years.