Mamelodi Sundowns will fancy their chances of getting the job done on home soil following a 1-1 draw against Golden Arrows in their MTN8 semifinal first-leg match at Sugar Ray Xulu Stadium in Clermont on Saturday afternoon.
A first Sundowns goal for Pavol Safranko levelled matters deep into the second-half in the pouring rain after Nqobeko Dlamini had given the hosts an early lead.
Abafana Bes’thende hit the front after just six minutes in Clermont. Dlamini weaved between two Sundowns players before unleashing a rasping left-footed effort from range which beat the diving Denis Onyango.
No further chances followed at either end of the pitch in the first-half with Arrows completely nullifying the Sundowns attack on a wet afternoon in KwaZulul-Natal.
That changed after the break as Sundowns emerged from the tunnel with real purpose and with the wind at their back, the visitors dominated both possession and territory.
The Brazilians came within inches of levelling matters in the 56th minute when a corner-kick fell favourably for Grant Kekana inside the area, but he failed to hit the target from point-blank range.
Sundowns introduced Thabiso Kutumela and Safranko in the 72nd minute and the duo provided an instant impact off the bench.
Sifiso Mlungwana did well to save at Safranko’s feet from a Kutumela cross four minutes after their introduction, but the Arrows goalkeeper failed to hold onto the ball in the 85th minute from an identical situation. Kutumela’s low cross was deflected by the shot-stopper into the path of Safranko who tapped the ball into an open net.
The late goal has completely changed the dynamic of the second-leg and Sundowns will be overwhelming favourites to book their place in the final at Arrows’ expense.
Golden Arrows (1) 1 (Dlamini 6′)
Mamelodi Sundowns (0) 1 (Safranko 85′)
Golden Arrows:Mlungwana; Cele, Zuke, Sibisi, Dube, Dlamini, Ndwandwe, Mmodi (Conco 30′), Mtshali (Mtshali 55′), Magawana (Sabelo 55′), Gumede (Mutizwa 64′).
Mamelodi Sundowns:D.Onyango; G.Kekana, Coetzee, De Reuck, Lakay (Safranko 72′), Morena, Jali, Mkhulise (Modibe 62′), Sirino, Erasmus, Shalulile (Kutumela 72′). © Backpage TXT