United Get The Better Of Sundowns13/Aug/2017 21:38
Pitso Mosimane said in the post match interviews that he had warned his boys not to concede, but rather to score first to force the Kwazulu side out of their defensive shell.
This MTN8 contest was always going to be a tactical affair. Maritzburg has always given the Tshwane Giants hard times, and their games in the past season ended in draws. Sundowns went in with confidence, but found United just as determined.
It was a game that Sundowns dominated, holding the ball up and then launching short passing attacks.
Mosimane had started with Kennedy Mweene in goal, and the Zambian glove man was forced into early saves, but it was Sundowns who had the clearer chances as early as the fifth minute.
United then turned on the heat and came close on several occasions as they caught Sundowns on the break. First Brian Wiedlich made a run getting past the Sundowns defence, and then Evans Rusike combined well with Deolin Mekoa, but failed to capitalize.
It seemed at this stage that the Brazilians were rusty following a long break. Khama Billiat, who was returning from a long term injury, could not get going to find the target, but United were also not letting him play although his control of the ball still shone through.
Percy Tau was roughed up regularly, with Bevan Fransman getting a yellow for some rough tackles.
Themba Zwane found himself playing too deep, and Yannick Zakri could not get his spark.
Thapelo Morena made his trade mark runs down the flank, but the African champions were losing possession cheaply.
Just before the interval Billiat missed a chance that could have given them the lead into the break.
Sundowns came out more organised in the second half. Captain Hlompho Kekana led the attacks and twice tried to get in his trade mark long drive, but United had a double line defence, clearing everything coming their way.
United eventually got their break when Sundowns lost posession in the middle of the park, and Rusike found himself with acres of space, controlling the ball with his left before firing in low as Thabo Nthete and Motjeka Madisha slid in to try to stop him. Kennedy Mweene was well beaten from close range.
Sundowns were jolted into action, and forced United onto the back foot. They launched wave after way, but United fell back to defend their lead.
Mosimane brought on Anthony Laffor for Zakri, but even he could not find his way through the United defence.
The two new Sundowns signings were brought on, Oupa Manyisa for Sibusiso Vilakazi and George Lebese for Billiat.
The two gave new life to a flagging attack, but as the clock ticked on, it was clear that United were not about to give it up.
In the end, even the close attempt headed by Nthete which shaved the upright could not rattle United.
The final whistle handed the Kwazulu Natal team a rare victory over the champions, robbing Sundowns of yet another chance to get this title for coach Mosimane.
How Sundowns lined up:
Kennedy Mweene, Thapelo Morena, Tebogo Langerman, Motjeka Madisha, Thabo Nthete, Hlompho Kekana, Sibusiso Vilakazi,(Oupa Manyisa)Themba Zwane, Khama Billiat (George Lebese), Yannick Zakri, (Anthony Lagfor), Percy Tau.