Mweene Heroics Helps Downs Secure Season Opening Victory

Mamelodi Sundowns began their 2021/22 campaign with a penalty shootout victory against Kaizer Chiefs on Sunday, at Lucas Moripe Stadium in a thrilling MTN 8 Cup encounter.

A lively opening encounter in the capital city between Mzansi’s two giants was nothing less than what football lovers had anticipated ahead of the afternoon’s encounter.

Masandawana’s goal poacher, Peter Shalulile opened the scoring in the early minutes of the match with a spectacular header connecting from Lyle Lakay’s perfect cross into the box from the left wing. 

Amakhosi’s first chance at goal followed a while after Downs took charge of possession in the middle of the park. Amakhosi struggled to put together convincing passes to move forward into their hosts territory, with their first attempt at goal coming from their striker, Benard Parker who met Kennedy Mweene ready to disengage any attacks aimed at his posts.

The Brazilian’s continued to showcase classy football with the exchange of passes between Themba Zwane, Mothobi Mvala and Khuliso Mudau who worked tirelessly on the wing to provide crosses into Chiefs final third.

Kaizer Chiefs continued to look for an equalizer with their defenders joining in attack once the referee awarded them with a corner kick that came from Mweene’s efforts to save another attack.

Masandawana continued making a bold statement, reminding their opponents that they are indeed the local defending Champions. Mvala joined the attacking party, finding spaces within Chiefs pockets and spotting Mshishi charging towards the opponents box. After a few touches, Zwane’s shot beat Itulemeng Khune in goal and found the back of the net to make it 2-0.

Bafana Ba Style continued taking advantage of Chiefs midfield with the left side of the pitch being a favourite to bring in the goals. Mvala’s lethal strike from the middle of the park to test Chiefs goalkeeper, was convincingly handing Downs another goal before the half time break, however his efforts were saved by the hands of the experienced Khune. 

As the game approached two thirds of the first half,  Downs continued to dominate with a great style of football, exchanging passes in between the midfielders who continued to take shots at the Glamour Boys.

Without converting their chances, Downs continued with a massive attack of combination play from Mudau, Mvala and Lakay with a marvelous technique, taking a shot that many had counted as a goal, however saved by the woodwork.

However, the Glamour Boys weren’t to be denied for much longer, with Njabulo Blom in attack to cross the ball to Benard Parker who made it 2-1 minutes before the break.

The visitors’ spirit continued in search for an equalizer in the last five minutes of the game posing threats to Downs dominance. A turnover in possession saw four Chiefs attackers take on two defenders, however captain Mosa Lebusa saved the day as he cleared the ball away.

Getting the second half of the game underway, Mamelodi Sundowns returned from the break looking to continue with their dominance in attack, with Zwane pushing forward and poking holes in Chiefs camp. 

Amakhosi kept their foot firmly on the pedal in the second half and were rewarded for that intensity with Keagan Dolly’s through pass to Kama Billiat catching Masandawana’s defense off duty to level the score.

Matters between the two teams levelled, a spectacular display of football continued for nearly twenty minutes, with both teams trying to find ways to break the defense. Masandawana continued taking advantage of their fast paced wingers, with Aubrey Modiba’s cross into the box finding Shalulile who scored from an off-side position.

A double substitution for Downs was made after the 60th minute, Andile Jali came on for Mvala, meanwhile Slovakian striker Pavol Safranko who made his debut for The Brazilians.

The battle continued with multiple attacks from both giants, it was Masandawana who were convincing once again pressing forward in search of a goal, however unfortunate to find the key to unlock the closing goal to win the match.

Another Downs debutant, Neo Maema, made his way in place of Haashim Domingo and the attacker got off to an exciting start, teaming up with Safranko and Shalulile upfront. 

Downs goalkeeper, Mweene got into the thrilling action when Phathutshedzo Nange’s shot was saved by his outstretched arm.

Bafana Ba Style made more substitutions with ten minutes left to play, full back Thapelo Morena exchanged positions with Mudau, who had an excellent performance and played a role in Zwane’s build up goal. Morena made an immediate impact from the bench as he joined in attack, with his shot hitting the side of the net.

The afternoon’s thrilling encounter was a massive battle that could not be settled after ninety minutes of play and both teams prepared yet for an additional extra time of thirty minutes. 

With the tempo of the game dropping, The Brazilians introduced another one of their new signings, Thabiso Kutumela to add depth to their attack. However, Masandawana and Amakhosi’s combat could not be decided any further by both teams challenging one another in open play. No goals were scored within the extra time as the two giants denied each other goal scoring opportunities. 

A penalty shootout was inevitable after the long awaited battle to decide which team will advance to the next round of the tournament.

Zambian international Kennedy Mweene was the deciding factor of the tournament, the shot stopper made incredible four saves out of the five penalties taken by the opponents. 

Masandawana won the shootout by 2-1, penalties scored by the goalkeeper himself and Zwane.

Mamelodi Sundowns join Golden Arrows and Swallows FC in the semifinals of the MTN8 Cup competition.

How the team lined up: K. Mweene, K. Mudau (88’ T. Morena), L. Lakay, R. De Reuck, M. Lebusa, R. Coetzee, M. Mvala (63’ A. Jali), H. Domingo (73’ N. Maema), A. Modiba (63’ P. Safranko), T. Zwane, P. Shalulile

Substitutions: R, Pieterse, D. Lunga, T. Morena, G. Kekana, N. Maema, A. Jali, S. Mkhulise, P. Safranko, T. Kutumela.

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