Premier Soccer League defending champions Mamelodi Sundowns ensured that the title race will go down to the wire after beating former league leaders Kaizer Chiefs 1-0 in a top of the table clash at the Orlando Stadium on Thursday 27 August 2020. A 34th minute g0al from Gaston Sirino settled the contest after the Uruguayan midfielder finished off a delightful backheeled pass from Themba Zwane.
It was a heavy shock to Chiefs who had dominated the opening exchanges with two clear opportunities including one from Bernard Parker who failed convert after being played through one-on-one with opposing goalkeeper Kennedy Mweene.
Amakhosi ramped up the pressure in the second half with Dumisani Zuma and Eric Mathoho coming close with good efforts, but despite their territorial dominance and greater possession, they were unable to make the breakthrough with Sundowns happy to defend stoutly and frustrate their opponents. Despite the defeat, Chiefs remain on top of of the table on goals difference with Sundowns drawing level on with 53 points. The result could have a huge significance in the title race with three matches remaining.
Chiefs manager Ernst Middendorp vas visibly unhappy, lamenting his side’s inability during the post-match press conference.
“Before we went down to 1-0, we had two clear chances, one against goalkeeper. We didn’t make it, we didn’t pick it up. Then we got caught on the counter,” the German tactician told SuperSport TV.
“We changed the formation. Changed the setup. Brought in players. I think in the second half it was 80/20 possession. We were consistently in their half. One mistake, one counter on the other side.
“We had possibilities in the second last minute, it was just a tap in with a header and then it was going to be at least 1-1. We were more dynamic in the middle of the park in the second half.
On his part, Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane maintained that there was still plenty of work to be done.
“We are not on top of the log,” Mosimane told SuperSport TV. “[Kaizer Chiefs] are still there, so these guys have got points and the [goal difference]. So now we have to work on the goals, which is still difficult. So it’s still in their hands and not our hands.
“[The Premier Soccer League title is] not decided because if you get too excited and you don’t understand how to win the championship. You will think ‘oh Polokwane will win, oh Baroka would win.’ It’s not the case, but the Champions League experience helped us today and we managed to sustain [Chiefs’ pressure]. This was a Champions League game.”
Both sides are back in action on Sunday with Chiefs facing another tough challenge at Bidvest Wits while Sundowns entertain Baroka.