Mamelodi Sundowns’ quest to retain the Absa Premiership title suffered a blow on Wednesday night following a 2-0 defeat to their Tshwane rivals SuperSport United at the Loftus Versfeld Stadium.
It was Downs’ first loss to the Pretoria rivals in six years, finally breaking the hoodoo as Matsatsantsa scored a goal in either half to take all three points.
SuperSport took the lead on the half hour mark through a Grant Kekana header, beating goalkeeper Kennedy Mweene. The defender connected with a timely corner kick from Aubrey Modiba as he shuffled past a number of bodies in the box to give Matsatsantsa the lead.
Mweene had been called in to replace the injured Denis Onyango, with coach Pitso Mosimane confirming before the match that the Ugandan shot-stopper was one of the casualties in Sundowns’ away draw to Al Ahly in the quarter-finals of the CAF Champions League at the weekend in Alexandria, a tie the Brazilians clinched 5-1 on aggregate to progress to the last four.
Downs will meet Wydad Casablanca next Friday in Morocco as they edge ever close to a second final in three years. But the ‘The Brazilians have to quickly recover from the title blow suffered at the hands of SuperSport this week. The decisive goal game in 79th minute when substitute Ghampani Lungu increased the tally to put the game beyond their reach.
Sundowns failed to completely clear the ball out of the danger zone and striker Bradley Grobler picked up a lose ball to set up his teammate, and the Zambian talisman did not miss the target.
The home side did try to stage a come back, but the heavy legs – and several injuries to key players as confirmed by the coach – made it difficult.
Joining Onyango on the injury list was Lebohang Maboe (tonsils), Oupa Manyisa (knee) and Anthony Laffor (knee surgery). Gaston Sirino, despite still being suspended is also still nursing an injury he picked up in the first leg against Al Ahly two weeks ago in the 5-0 victory.
The defeat pushed Sundowns down to third place on the log standings and six points behind leaders Orlando Pirates, though the Buccaneers have played two games more. Sundowns will have a chance to bounce back almost immediately when they travel to Polokwane to face Baroka FC on Saturday at the Old Peter Mokaba Stadium. Three days later Mosimane’s men will then be back at Loftus Versfeld Stadium to host Chippa United as they attempt to close the gap at the top, chasing a record ninth title. Soon thereafter they will turn their attention to Wydad in the semi-finals of the Champions League, with the away leg first played in Rabat, Morocco before the return leg at the Lucas Moripe Stadium on May 3.