Mamelodi Sundowns were unable to defend the Mopani Cup, as the Tshwane side fell 2-1 to Pretoria neighbours SuperSport United in the first match of the four team tournament at the Giyani Stadium.
Bafana Ba Style did not have the best of starts, as United found a goal as early as the fifth minute. Ten minutes later Sundowns almost found an equaliser, when some beautiful interplay between Elias Pelembe and Hlompho Kekana down the right hand side saw Lebohang Mokoena unleash a thunderous shot which rattled the woodwork.
Fifteen minutes into the match both teams were locked in a fierce midfield battle, which saw Kekana calling the shots in the middle of the park but the score remained 1-0 in favor of United. Siyabonga Ngubane was making surging runs down the right flank only to be stopped in his tracks by a resilient United back four.
Wayne Sandilands was called into action and produced a wonderful save in the 25th minute of the match. Siyabonga Ngubane continued to charge down the right hand flank and produced a wonderful cross, resulting in some lovely touches from Edward Manqele and Elias Pelembe inside the SuperSport Box.
Supersport launched an attack of their own down the left hand side, which saw Ngubane making a crucial interception to deny United’s efforts to increase the score line. Teko Modise and Pelembe combined well and released Kekana who was fouled outside the box, resulting in a quickly taken free-kick which posed no threat for United.
Method Mwanjale was stretched off the field of play with a suspected injury, but soon back on his feet following a break in play. Leading up to the halftime break United played a dangerous ball behind the Downs defense but Sandilands was again up to the task and pulled a save from a one on one situation.
The second half started fiercely with Sundowns pushing for an equalizer and five minutes in Ngubane was bundled over through a clumsy challenge by the United defense, which left him requiring some medical attention. Kekana then floated a beautiful ball over the defence for Edward but the striker was let down by his first touch.
Johan Neeskens was forced make a substitution, when Ngubane never recovered from the knock ,the Maritzburg born player was replaced by former Santos man, Wayne Arendse.
Despite the lion share of ball possession and Downs pushing for the equalizer, United doubled their lead in the 55th minute.
Five minutes later ‘Cheeseboy’ beat the United defense and set up Modise, who flashed his shot past the right hand post. Sundowns made two quick substitutions in the 64th and 67th minutes, bringing in Anthony Laffor for Pelembe and Eleazar Rodgers for Thamanqa Sangweni respectively.
Laffor got straight into action when he got behind the United defense in the 70th minute, only to have the keeper come out and make a wonderful save.
Kekana was substituted in the 72nd minute and Musa Nyatama was the man replacing ‘The Rock’ who had a solid game despite the score line.
Another second half substitute, Rodgers got in the thick of things in the 75th minute, when he dispossessed a SuperSport defender to produces a wonderful low cross for Modise, who misfired his shot over the crossbar.
Laffor was at it again and this time the Liberian International brought down the ball beautifully on his chest to beat a defender with his pace. The former United player drilled in a low cross for Manqele, who calmly converted to give Downs the opening goal.
In the 85th minute Rodgers used his height and won a ball in the air but his header went agonisingly close to the top upright. Moments later Laffor again beat his man and produced a wonderful cross, which had the United defense scrambling to clear their lines.
FULL TIME | Mamelodi Sundowns FC 1 : 2 SuperSport United