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Date: 26 March 2019

  South African - Soccer

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Sundowns' Chiefs loss dents title chances

[Posted 03 May 2012]
[By Beezsports Reporter]
Sundowns" Chiefs loss dents title chances
Mamelodi Sundowns let slip a chance to return to the top of the ABSA premiership last night when they were outplayed by bouyant Kaizer Chiefs at the Soccer City/FNB Stadium last night, losing 2-0 courtesy of two second half goals from Sthembiso Ngcobo and Simphiwe Tshabalala.

Needing all the three points on offer to tie points with Orlando Pirates who had beaten Supersport United at the death 24 hours earlier, coach Johan Neeskens had a game plan which shocked and surprised many. He left out seniors and regulars like Teko Modise and Elias Pelembe on the bench.

The result of his poor game plan of going into a match of this magnitude with rookies like Themba Zwane and Walter Maponyane was that Sundowns succumbed to a masterstroke tactical change from Doctor Khumalo and Donald Ace Khuse in the second half.

The Chiefs technical team brought in veteran Reneihlwe Letsholonyane, fresh from recovering from injury. The former Jomo Cosmos man's combination with Shabba in midfield caught Downs' on a counter attack twice with quick fire goals which might make the difference between them losing the title and winning it.

Zwane and Maponyane disappointed on the night, and the pressure  told on the talented young players when they took turns to either miss sitters in the box, or fail to deliver crosses into the box on numerous occasions.

Neeskens' attempt to bring on the big three, Modise, Pelembe and Katlego Mphela did not yield the desired results as it was a little too late for the team from Mamelodi.

At the end, Amakhosi were happy to put a stop to their losing streak, and they always posed a threat, even before the match, as it was common knowledge that Chiefs were itching to come-back from their string of losses, four in a row.

It is unfortunate that Sundowns stood in the way of a wounded giant. Neeskens' poor strategy and naivety in team selection did not help matters, as Nyasha Mushekwi was left stranded upfront with no clean supply of the ball.

Pirates now have the destiny of the ABSA premiership title firmly in their hands. It is difficult to see them letting slip any more chances. The Bucs players are showing enough hunger and fighting spirit at the right time.

One attractive attribute about Pirates players is that they never stop fighting until the final whistle. This is exactly what made the difference between dropping two points and winning all points on offer on Tuesday against Supersport.

It is now becoming very difficult not to come to a conclusion that Pirates will retain their title this season. However, Moroka Swallows are serious dark horses, and so is Supersport.

Anybody can rule out Sundowns or even Free State at their own peril. The two clubs are in the mix and could spring a surprise.

Free State underlined their pedigree as dark horses by climbing to 48 points after defeating Santos 1-0 away in Cape Town and maintaining their 4th position on the log. Swallows are on 5th place with 47 points, but with a game in hand against Black Leopards, they could leapfrog many into 2nd position with 50 points if they manage to win in Giyani.


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