Mamelodi Sundowns collected maximum points in the DStv Premiership when they edged Richards Bay 1-0 at the King Zwelithini Stadium.
Junior Mendieta’s goal in the first half was enough to beat the home team and record a fifth consecutive win at the start of the campaign for the defending champions and a man of the match award for the Argentine forward.
Masandawana had the better chances in front of goal from the beginning of the match, Lucas Ribeiro put in a through pass early in the game to Lesiba Nku on the right. Nku took a shot with his left foot but the home team’s defense blocked the attempt through Austin Dube who put his body on the incoming shot.
Just as the clock reached 10 minutes, Mendieta scored his first goal for Bafana Ba Style. A combination of play from the yellow team began with Mothobi Mvala who connected with Ribeiro, the Brazilian striker released the ball through the legs of Dube to find Mendieta who struck home.
The home side looked to find an equalizer three minutes later, coming through the flanks with speed was Justice Figaredo but Grant Kekana provided good cover for Mvala to stop the attack. Richards Bay were awarded a free kick after Mendieta’s pass hit AB Boutouil on his arm, Sanele Barns delivered the kick to which Siyanda Dlamini connected with and forced Ronwen Williams to save as the attempt went on target.
The Natal Rich Boys got another free kick opportunity before the half hour mark, the opportunity was well taken and went on target but had no power behind it to cause trouble as Williams made a comfortable save. Downs were given a free kick opportunity as well around 30 minutes, Teboho Mokoena’s shot went on target to find Salim Magoola ready to make the save and the keeper put his team back into play.
Tshepo Mabua took a chance for Richards Bay as the clock was heading into halftime but he went wide off target, Sundowns regained possession and crafted an opportunity to attack in the last minute. Ribeiro tried to set up Mendieta once again in the box with a through pass but Magoola was quick to come out to collect.
In the second half Masandawana got underway and picked up the proceedings where they left off with their attacking but let down by their finishing. Downs gradually grew into the half, and after working through the defense the attackers created a big opportunity when Mokoena put in a long ball across the box from the left to the right where Nku was running in but unfortunate for Nku to see his shot go past the goal of mouth to extend the lead.
The opponents soon had the opportunity on their side, Figareido found his teammate Letsie Koapeng, who had just been substituted, Koapeng put his head to the ball in the box but our shotsopper Williams was ready to make the save. Masandawana made their first changes in the 70th minute, Nku and Aubrey Modiba made their way off for Terrence Mashego and Bongani Zungu.
Mashego won possession and threaded the ball with a step over to cut the ball back into the box with an opportunity to extend the lead, but played the ball back to his teammate Allende who couldn’t control the ball and eventually dispossessed. Lebohang Maboe and Ntando Nkosi stepped into the field for the first time in the new season when they switched places with Mendieta and Allende in the last minutes of the game. Club captain Themba Zwane was also introduced in the last minutes left to play as Ribeiro stepped off the field.
Nkosi sustained an injury in his attempt to win the ball and was unfortunate not to finish the match. Downs got their last scoring opportunity when they created space on the left side, Mashego took a shot that met a solid block from the opposition and the game ended in 1-0 and 16 total shots taken by Masandawana, 3 on target and a 69% possession.
How we lined up: Williams, AB Boutouil, Kekana, Mvala, Coetzee, Mokoena, Allende(820′ Nkosi), Ribeiro (88′ Zwane), Mendieta (82′ Maboe), Modiba, Nku.
Subs. D. Onyango, B. Onyango, Aubaas, Maboe, Mashego, Zwane, Mbule, Maema, Nkosi, Zungu