Sundowns silence buzzing EC Bees to book quarter-final spot
Mamelodi Sundowns are through to the quarter-final stage of the Nedbank Cup after a narrow and hard fought 2-1 win over EC Bees at Loftus on Tuesday night but they made heavy weather of what looked a negotiable assignment.
The minnows, who campaign in the Kay Motsepe League in the Eastern Cape, pushed the much fancied Brazilians all the way in their lively clash and they will look back at this encounter with a certain level of pride.
They arrived in the capital with the huge task of taking on PSL logleaders but they managed to score first after sixteen minutes through lively attacker Joseph Chikila when he capitalised on a defensive mistake by Siyabonga Zulu.
Zulu received the ball outside the box but he misplaced his pass fell on the path of Chikila who took the ball to beat defender Motjeka Madisha before rounding off Sundowns goalkeeper Kennedy Mweene to put the ball into the empty net.
Chikila is making a habit of being a big game player as he scored in the loss to Orlando Pirates in this tournament last season but his brilliance was not enough to help his team to what could have been a famous victory.
Before Bees opened the scoring, George Lebese was denied by opposition goalkeeper Khanya Mini with a brilliant double save inside the box after the Sundowns midfielder received a cross from Anthony Laffor in the twelfth minute.
Downs assistant coach Manqoba Mngqithi, who was in charge in the absence of Pitso Mosimane who is attending a Caf Pro Licence course in Morocco, introduced right back Thapelo Morena for ineffective Anele Ngcongca on the half hour mark.
The move seemed to work as Sundowns improved and Laffor and Lebese were denied by inspired Mini with two quick close range saves before the break as his defence struggled to cope with Brazilians’ relentless attacks.
Sundowns equalized inside the first minute of the second half when, after he received a pass from Madisha, Hlompho Kekana unleashed a thunderous shot from outside the box to give Mini no chance.
Bees did not lie down to be dominated by Sundowns but they were let down by their lack of finishing ideas whenever they arrived in the opponents danger area and their naivety was duly punished as Morena nailed the winner in the 75th minute.
Jeremy Brockie delivered a good cross from the right flank and Morena drilled a low shot past Mini as Sundowns progressed to the next round to keep their ambitions of a double this season alive.