The much-anticipated clash of the New Year against Orlando Pirates in the DStv Premiership took place at Loftus Versfeld and it lived up to the expectations. Coming to this game Mamelodi Sundowns had not registered a loss and were looking to keep that streak going. From the last clash Masandawana, a few changes were made in the starting lineup and saw the likes of Khuliso Mudau, Aubrey Modiba, and Rivaldo Coetzee getting a start.
The game started at a high pace and Masandawana was the first one to throw a blow at the visitors as Peter Shalulile managed to hold off Thulani Hlatshwayo and set up Lebo Maboe who took a shot that flew above the goals of Wayne Sandilands and not troubling the Buccaneers. A few minutes later Thapelo Morena made a good run and managed to keep the ball and set up Lyle Lakay but the visitor’s keeper was alert to keep the danger away. Ricardo Nascimento had a chance after a corner from Lakay but the Pirates defence could only deflect the header away for a corner.
Both sides were going at each other and it looked like no side would score until the tall Kenyan defender Brian Onyango found himself heading the ball into the back of the net after a cross bounced off Nascimento and that put the Brazilians ahead in the 35th minute. It went to half time with Masandawana leading.
In the second half, the visitors looked dangerous as they threw everything at the defence of Masandawana but the boys stood tall.
Morena had a chance to extend the lead in the 59th minute but his shot was gathered easily by Sandilands. The technical team made two changes by bringing in Andile Jali to stabilise the midfield and Kermit Erasmus to give the strike force some firepower. Romeo was quick into action as his shot was saved by the visitor’s keeper. In the 71st minute, Denis Onyango had to make a crucial save from a freekick by Gadinho Mhango. Pirates had an opportunity to equalize after substitute Jean Mundele was in a great position but his first touch let him down and Denis was alert to pick the ball up.
Masandawana had two more chances to seal the game as Romeo saw his effort hit the post with Sandilands well beaten, the other chance fell to Morena and he only saw his shot hit the side net.
What a way to start a new year, three points sealed and the unbeaten record still intact.
How we lined up:
D. Onyango, Mudau (Jali 60′), Lakay, Nascimento, B. Onyango, Coetzee, Maboe (Mkhulise 83′), Mvala, Morena, Modiba (Erasmus 60′), Shalulile (Soumahoro 88′).
Mweene, Jali, Margeman, Kapinga, Erasmus, Soumahoro, Langerman, Mkhulise, Makgalwa.