Mamelodi Sundowns blew the chance to take charge of the Absa Premiership title race when they were beaten 1-0 by Baroka FC at Dobsonville Stadium on Sunday evening.
Following a loss for title rivals and log leaders Kaizer Chiefs earlier in the day, the Brazilians could have gone three points clear with two games to play, but instead it is a case of ‘as you were’ for the two heavyweights, who remain level on 53 points at the head of the table.
However, the result is a major boost for Bakgaga, who move up two places to 13th on the log and open up a two-point gap to the relegation playoff berth.
Sundowns looked the more confident and organised team in the early stages, but Baroka claimed the ascendancy in the 20th minute, with Ananias Gebhardt rising highest to meet a corner kick and head the Limpopo side into a surprise lead.
The Brazilians upped their game after going behind, but created few genuine opportunities in the remainder of the first half. The closest they came was an in-swinging free kick from Lyle Lakay which flashed through the penalty area and narrowly wide of Ayanda Dlamini’s right-hand upright in the 36th minute.
Baroka led 1-0 at the break, while Sundowns made a double change in attack early in the second half when they introduced Promise Mkhuma and Sibusiso Vilakazi off the bench. Sadly the latter player lasted just 10 minutes on the pitch before a nasty challenge from Tshidiso Patjie ended his evening, necessitating the introduction of Lebohang Maboe.
Phakamani Mahlambi and Keletso Makgalwa soon followed, as Sundowns manager Pitso Mosimane threw on every attacking player he could. Yet there was no incision or composure in the final third from the defending league champions, who hardly threatened Ayanda Dlamini’s goal posts.
The teams will return to Absa Premiership action on Wednesday 2 September, with Sundowns away to Polokwane City at Loftus Versfeld Stadium and Baroka visiting SuperSport United at the Bidvest Stadium.
Mamelodi Sundowns 0
Baroka FC (1) 1 (Gebhardt 20’)
Sundowns: Mweene, Ngcongca (Makgalwa 71’), Madisha, Lebusa, Lakay, Jali (Vilakazi 53’ [Maboe 63’]), Kekana, Mkhulise (Mahlambi 71’), Sirino, Zwane, Meza (Mkhuma 54’)
Baroka: Dlamini, Makume, Farmer, Sibiya, Gebhardt, Masiya (Sampson 79’), Kambala, Mosele, Patjie (Mbulu 67’), Makgopa (Gadla 90’), Mgaga (Phiri Jnr 80’)