Mamelodi Sundowns’ defence of their DStv Premiership title began in the perfect fashion on the opening weekend with a dominant victory over rivals AmaZulu on Friday.
An intense opening encounter between the two teams in Pretoria set a scene for many football fans on what to expect going into the new season. In the opening stages, the game was reasonably even with both teams trying to penetrate through their opponents, with the tactical setups of both sets of coaching staff on display.
Usuthu began with a positive charge towards the hosts at Loftus Versfeld in search of an opening goal in the early minutes of the game, however the pairing of Rushine De Reuck and Mosa Lebusa stood tall and weathered the early pressure. Masandawana were not to be pushed away and looked for ways to change things around when AmaZulu lost the ball in the middle of the park.
The deadlock was broken when Themba Zwane opened the scoring from the penalty spot after Peter Shalulile was brought down in the penalty area by Thembela Sikhakhane. Mshishi held his nerve on the spot and calmly dispatched past Veli Mothwa in the AmaZulu goal to grab his first of the season. The goal meant it was a dream start for Bafana Ba Style, laying down a statement of intent for the upcoming campaign.
Masandawana went into the first half of the exhilarating action leading 1-0.
Usuthu responded with some sustained pressure in the second half, creating some chances in the second half as Maduna aimed shots at Masandawana goalie, Kennedy Mweene. Khuliso Mudau, Mothobi Mvala and Haashim Domingo turned on the style midway throught the second half to fashion a chance for Modiba, however the attackers shot was blocked, showing The Brazilian fans a glimpse of what they can look forward to this season.
Bongi Ntuli was a busy man for AmaZulu on the wing, trying to bring his team back into action but the solid defense of Mamelodi Sundowns could not be dismantled. The defending Champions made a triple sub shortly after their goalkeeper Mweene went down from a knock he had taken earlier during a mix up in defense that nearly gave Amazulu an equalizer.
Themba Zwane, Mosa Lebusa and Haashim Domingo made their way off the pitch for Thapelo Morena, Sphelele Mkhulise and debutant Grant Kekana.
Mvala was back in the hot-heated action with a chance to score a second goal for Downs, however he was unfortunate as the ball knocked on his knees into the path of the goalkeeper.
Peter Shalulile had a shot at goal before going off from the exciting encounter giving new signing Pavol Safranko a chance to make his league debut in the Capital City.
After a nervy end to the game where AmaZulu looked dangerously close to evening the scores, Downs hung onto their lead and came away with a win from the Loftus Versfeld Stadium.
Rivaldo Coetzee was awarded Man of the match for his brilliant performance!
This is how we lined up: K. Mweene, K. Mudau, L. Lakay, R. De Reuck, M. Lebusa © (74’ Kekana), M. Mvala, H. Domingo (74’ Mkhulise), R. Coetzee, A. Modiba (63′ Sirino), T. Zwane (74’ Morena), P. Shalulile (85′ Safranko).
Subs: R. Pieterse, G. Sirino, T. Morena, G. Kekana, N. Maema, A. Jali, P. Safranko, T. Kutumela.
Mamelodi Sundowns continue their journey on Tuesday 24 August in the MTN 8 Cup Competition against Golden Arrows.