Mamelodi Sundowns and Swallows battled to a scoreless draw in the DStv Premiership on Sunday afternoon at the Dobsonville Stadium. The Brazilians made three changes for the trip to Soweto, Sphelele Mkhulise, Sipho Mbule and Haashim Domingo formed part of the starting lineup.
The affair started off to a slow build up with both teams looking determined to find their way into the opposition’s box, it was Peter Shalulile who put in the first cross for Masandawana from the left side of the field towards the box, but Bongani Sam put his head on to the ball, taking it out for a corner.
The defending Champions began to dominate play for much of the first half, with possession on their side as they looked to find one another in an attempt to get an opener against the Dube Birds. After 15 minutes of defending, Swallows made a breakthrough in attack with Patjie finding space on the left side, the attacker put the ball to his right to take a long range shot on target as Ronwen Williams, who had hardly been challenged, pounced off to make a save.
A minute later Grant Kekana got dispossessed in his own half by Evans Rusike, but the defender did well to recover and made a run to stop the man from taking a shot at Williams. Downs recovered from the attempts at goal by the home team and held onto the ball once again, Shalulile made a turn in the box and struck immediately but Daniel Akpeyi got down low to collect the ball.
Aubrey Modiba and Sphelele Mkhulise brilliantly played passes back and forth to one another trying to create space and draw out the defenders from the box, Modiba was unfortunate to see his final low cut cross into the box cleared out by Tlakusani Mthethwa.
After playing for over 19 minutes without finding spaces to put in a shot at goal, Shalulile did well to collect the ball from an incoming corner by Mbule but the striker found himself off balance as he looked to take the shot. As the game approached half time, Khuliso Mudau took a long shot that went off target and caused no trouble for the Sowetans. Masandawana and the Dube Birds walked into the tunnel with no goals on either side, but with more pressure building up for the Swallows team in defense.
Sundowns got things underway in the second half with a quick attack from Shalulile who unleashed a shot from the side but went wide of the target. Both teams tried to find their rhythm in the game thereafter, on one side Downs were looking to find spaces amongst a solid line of defense meanwhile Swallows put more numbers at the back to stop the attacks from coming their way.
It was just before the hour that Masandawana first turned to their bench, with Abubeker Nasir making his way into the field for Mkhulise. Immediately after the substitution was made, Shalulile trapped the ball with his chest and made a turn in the box and took a shot from a difficult angle but Akpeyi was at the near corner post to draw a save.
Sundowns began to increase the tempo in the game and looked more promising to find a goal as they found themselves more in the 18 area of Swallows but there was no luck to give them a goal from their resilient attempts. A double change of Thapelo Morena and Gaston Sirino was made for Mudau and Domingo.
Bafana Ba Style looked to find a way to break the line of Swallows and began to cross the balls into the box, the home team’s goalie Akpeyi jumped up high into the air to collect an incoming ball that was put in but lost the ball, Shalulile was close by to take a shot but the striker’s shot went high over the goalposts.
With 15 minutes left to play, Aubrey Modiba and Teboho Mokoena made their way off for Bongani Zungu, who returned from injury and Abdel Boutouil who made his Premier Soccer League debut. Sirino looked to finally make a breakthrough for The Brazilians with a powerful shot at goal that bounced off the keeper’s chest and away from danger. The game ended in a stalemate in Soweto, Downs will now have 61 points in the DStv Premiership after 25 matches played.
This is how we lined up:
Williams, Kekana, Mudau (65’ Morena), Modiba, Kekana, Mvala, Mokoena, Mkhulise (56’ Nasir), Mbule, Maema, Shalulile, Domingo (65’ Sirino).
D. Onyango, Boutouil, Ngobeni, Morena, Zungu, Allende, Zwane, Sirino, Nasir