Misery for Mamelodi Sundowns

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Nthethe pen 43, Langerman 75

AS Vita(1)1

Mbombo 40

2-2 on aggregate

Vita won on away goal rule

Johannesburg - The dream isn’t exactly over. It’s just been deferred to the CAF Confederation Cup where the Brazilians must make sure that it doesn’t explode in the play-offs, but they use their participation there to prepare them for next year’s CAF Champions League that coach Pitso Mosimane is obsessed with, as he dreams of making Sundowns African champions in the premier club competition.

But to do that, he must first slug it out in the secondary competition – a tournament they will go into motivated because of their storming performances at home.

But for some moments on Wednesday night it didn’t feel like Sundowns were at home with Vita fans louder than the the home support. They were deafening in their chants when Kule Mbombo put Vita ahead with a clever toe-poke after Bernard Morrison made a surging run on the right flank. The duo had also combined well to score the goal that saw Vita arrive in the country with a 1-0 lead.

Sundowns were quick to respond with Mr Cool, Thabo Nthethe, calmly slotting his penalty past Nelson Lukong after the goalkeeper brought down Leonardo Castro.

That goal brought back the sense of belief to Sundowns’ players, who dominated the match but found one brick wall after another from the Congolese side. Vita didn’t park the bus, they just defended smartly, forcing the Brazilians to be cleverer in a match that was a tactical chess-game. It started being like that even before it kicked off when Sundowns sprinkled the pitch, making it a bit slippery so that the ball moves faster to complement their passing game.

It also offered Vita a different canvass to the artificial pitch they call home in Kinshasa. But the DRC side has been in the country since Friday, acclimatising to everything including the pitch conditions. They had that and the experience of how to get to the group stage.Mosimane countered that by bringing in Teko Modise just before half-time in place of Themba Zwane, a decision that wasn’t popular but Mosimane made it so that his side can impose themselves more.

Before Zwane could sit on the bench and watch, Mosimane grabbed him and had a few stern words, something the midfielder didn’t take well and was the first to leave the field at half-time.

But that sideshow didn’t distract Sundowns who focused on the business at hand. That’s how they have been approaching this tournament, not distracted by anything with their sights on the goal of reaching the group stage. Everyone was pitching in, even unlikely heroes like Tebogo Langerman, whose goal saw the Pretoria side lead for the first time in this tie.

But it wasn’t enough, angering a section of fans who tried to storm the pitch and voice their displeasure of the officials. But Sundowns' players and management showed leadership by going to them to try and calm them down which they did and they returned to singing.

* In the PSL on Wednesday, Golden Arrows and Maritzburg United played out a 1-1 draw.

The Star

Original source: Misery for Mamelodi Sundowns

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