5 January 2019
Kaizer Chiefs (1) 1 (Katsande 14’)
Mamelodi Sundowns (1) 2 (Laffor 3’, Maboe 81’)
Kaizer Chiefs lost 2-1 to Mamelodi Sundowns in an Absa Premiership encounter at FNB Stadium on Saturday. Willard Katsande cancelled out Anthony Laffor’s opener before Lebohang Maboe handed Sundowns the win late in the second half.
The match got off to the worst possible start for Amakhosi as Anthony Laffor scored in the 3rd minute of the match, netting from close range after completing a passing move that he had started on the right flank.
Chiefs looked for an immediate response with numerous attacks from both flanks – Khama Billiat down the left and Siphosakhe Ntiya-Ntiya on the right.
The constant attacks eventually paid off when Hendrick Ekstein won a free-kick after being brought down by Mosa Lebusa. Billiat’s delivery found Willard Katsande unmarked at the far post. The captain duly headed in the equalizer in 14th minute.
An enterprising spectacle was immediately on the cards at FNB Stadium. Chiefs surged forward with counter-attacks and neat passing moves in pursuit of the lead.
Sundowns approached the game with caution and threatened in patches. One such case was when a 20th minute attack which Mario Booysen was alert to. The tall defender blocked on the line to prevent Laffor from putting Sundowns back in front.
Soon after, a Maluleka lobbed pass in the 23rd minute found Leonardo Castro, who shook off one defender before his shot was blocked. The resulting corner taken by Billiat again found Katsande unmarked, but his volleyed effort went skyward.
The frenetic pace the match had started with started to slow down before the break with both sides looking for some stability. The sides headed into the half-time break tied at 1-1.
Ernst Middendorp rang some changes during the interval by introducing Teenage Hadebe and Bernard Parker, who replaced Godfrey Walusimbi and Hendrick Ekstein respectively.
Parker would have an impact as soon as the 49th minute of the match as he got on the end of a Lebogang Manyama cross, but his headed attempt went wide off the target.
The next real chance came via a counter-attack in the 58th minute. Maluleka played a low pass to Billiat who shot over the bar with the goal at his mercy.
Parker was again on the end of a Billiat set piece when a cross driven at the near post went inches wide of the opposite post.
Katsande was eventually stretchered off in the 70th minute after a combative showing in midfield. Kabelo Mahlasela replaced him as Chiefs looked to take the lead.
Mahlasela did not waste time making an impact though he failed to hit the target after a 73rd minute cut back from Castro. The diminutive midfielder continued to pose a threat initiating one-two passes, linking up with the attackers in pursuit of the goal that would separate the sides.
That goal was eventually nabbed by Sundowns in the 81st minute against the run of play. A stray Rivaldo Coetzee long ball was misjudged by Virgil Vries as the Amakhosi goalkeeper was caught in two minds attempting to collect the ball. It bounced over him and an on-rushing Lebogang Maboe stroked it into an empty net.
That goal took the fire out of the Chiefs team who couldn’t respond in the manner that they had earlier in the match. The match would end 2-1 in favour of Sundowns who remain undefeated in the league this season.
Key moment in the match:
Willard Katsande’s equaliser in the 14th minute sent Chiefs into the ascendancy as it brought the team to life. Sundowns were limited in their attacks and soaked the pressure. Chiefs will feel hard done by as they could not take the lead despite a dominant showing in possession.
Most Valuable Player (MVP):
George Maluleka and Khama Billiat threaded through incisive passes and created a number of goal scoring opportunities. Leonardo Castro played the lone striker role so well holding up play and pressing from the front. Lebogang Manyama’s marauding runs made him a nuisance for the Sundowns defence. Anthony Laffor was eventually named Man of the Match despite having little influence after his opener.
What it means:
Ernst Middendorp has suffered his first defeat since taking over as Chiefs coach. In a game that could have seen Chiefs surge up to third on the Absa Premiership table with a win, the defeat leaves the Glamour Boys languishing in seventh place.
Chiefs line-up: Vries, Ntiya-Ntiya, Walusimbi (Hadebe 46’), Cardoso, Booysen; Katsande (Mahlasela 70’), Maluleka, Ekstein (Parker 46’); Manyama, Billiat, Castro
Subs not used: Bvuma, Gordinho, Ntshangase, Moon
Sundowns line-up: Mweene, Lebusa (Mohomi 72’), Morena, Nascimento, Coetzee; Kekana, Mabunda, Sirino (Madisha 84’), Maboe; Laffor, Brockie (Mkhulise 72’)
Subs not used: Pieterse, Ngcongca, Mahlambi, Lakay
Kaizer Chiefs travel to Braamfontein to take on log leaders Bidvest Wits on Wednesday, 9 January 2019. Kick-off at the Bidvest Stadium is scheduled for 19:30.