Peter Shalulile scored a hatrick as Masandawana set sail on the strength of a dominant performance in both the first and second half. Within less than a minute, Cassius Mailula took his first shot at Washington Arubi after Bongani Zungu and Themba Zwane linked up in the midfield releasing a long pass to Mailula upfront.
Bafana Ba Style began to look for an opening in Gallant’s back line. Maema put the ball behind Tshepo Gumede as Shalulile made a run on it and fired past Arubi and put the Yellow Nation in the lead. Downs had their first corner after opening their scoring account, Marcelo Allende put the ball into the box, Mothobi Mvala connected with the ball in the air and headed it over the top of the posts. Gallants regained their momentum and began to put up a fight, Gumede attempted to equalize with a shot outside Downs box but the ball went into the hands of the keeper and Onyango set up an attack for his team.
Sundowns kept the pressure going forward, with their chances a bit more dangerous and promising. Mshishi had a go at goal with his shot bouncing out of the goalkeeper’s hands and falling onto Shalulile who found the back of the net. The Namibian striker was on point to score his second goal in the encounter as the game reached twenty-five minutes, making it his 12th goal in the Ke Yona Competition.
After thirty minutes into the encounter, Letsie Koapeng looked to bring a goal for Gallant’s with a free kick, but his shot went over the Yellow wall with Lebusa having a touch with his upper body leading to a corner kick awarded to Marumo. The home team took advantage of their chances and Boitumelo Pheko shortly scored from outside the box with his left foot.
With just five minutes left to play in the opening half, Zwane and Zungu brilliantly played 1-2 passes to each other and finally found Mailula who then attempted to extend the scoreline but his shot lacked power and Arubi jumped onto the ball to make a save. Gallant’s looked to find another goal through Lucky Mohomi, the attacker’s deadly shot in the box got blocked by the bodies of Sundowns men and kept the score at 2-1 going into the break.
As soon as the match returned for the second half Gallants created a chance in attack when one of their players was fouled by Lebusa, but their ball hit the wall and they were set to chase the game again. Masandawana found their rhythm and began to take command, Maema got into the 18 area and released a hot shot towards goal but his ball took deflection and went out for a corner kick
Bafana Ba Style continued to enjoy sustained possession for the most part after fifty minutes and took more shots at goal. Sifiso Ngobeni was amongst those who had taken their chance at goal, the left footer’s shot was narrowly tapped out by Arubi as the ball looked promising at goal.
Downs put pressure on the defence when Shalulile made no mistake, tapping his strike across Arubi in goal but the linesman put his flag up. The defending Champions made changes before going into the seventieth minute, Mailula and Zwane exchanged positions with Haashim Domingo and Rivaldo Coetzee.
Sundowns handed one of their youngsters Thando Buthelezi his debut in the clash, while Terrence Mashego also marked his return from a long-term injury. The proceedings resumed and Downs kept pushing for another goal, Shalulile positioned himself well to grab a hat trick from a set piece delivered in by Allende.
Gallants had their last promising chances in the dying minutes which narrowly went past the top of the posts. The home team got the ball down into Sundowns end soon in extra time, Katlego Otladisa with a long shot forcing Onyango to make a save to his right with one hand.
Maema was once again in the middle of the scoring chance before the game came to a close. Having received the pass from Thabiso Kutumela at the edge of the area, Maema released a shot that glanced off the crossbar.
Next up for Masandawana is an away date with Stellenbosch in the DStv Premiership on Sunday, March 5.
This is how we lined up:
D. Onyango ©, Morena, Ngobeni(77′ Mashego), Mvala, Lebusa, Zungu(88′ Kutumela), Allende (77′ Buthelezi), Maema, Zwane (66′ Domingo), Shalulile, Mailula (66′ Coetzee).
Subs: Pieterse, B. Onyango, Mudau, Mashego, Coetzee, Mokoena, Buthelezi, Domingo, Kutumela