Maritzburg United remain rooted at the bottom as Sundowns go third
Mamelodi Sundowns are up to third after a narrow, action-packed 1-0 victory over bottom placed Maritzburg United in the Premier Soccer League in Pretoria on Wednesday but had to battle for the three points.
A stinging shot from captain Hlompho Kekana settled the result and pushed Sundowns to 28 points, behind leaders Bidvest Wits (33) and Orlando Pirates (31) who have played three games more.
It could have been a goal fest given all the opportunities but it was a poor showing from the attackers.
But Maritzburg did not look like a side at the bottom as they created chances to also share the spoils.
“We can’t buy anything with good football,” said new coach Muhsin Ertugral, who has lost all three games since his arrival to try and bail out the team.
“It was a difficult game, all about the result really,” added his Sundowns counterpart Pitso Mosimane.
The first half offered both sides a myriad of chances, all of which were spurned in what became increasingly a comedy of errors.
Themba Zwane did have the ball in the net some six minutes before half-time but was ruled offside in a rare error by World Cup linesman Zakhele Siwela.
But Sundowns had only themselves to blame for not scoring before the break as their attackers broke through Maritzburg’s defence almost at will only to see Zwane, Anthony Laffor, Gaston Sirino and Lebohang Maboe, playing against his old team, miss chances.
It only served to emphasize the poverty of goal scoring in the Absa Premiership.
Jeremy Brockie, too, had an early chance but took a decision to pass instead of shooting, was perhaps reflective of his lack of confidence as he battles to find the back of the net.
Maritzburg, who had not beaten Sundowns in their previous 11 league games, were able to break into good areas especially with Keletso Makgalwa, who could have done so much better if he was two-footed and able to use his left foot.
New signing Thabiso Kutumela, straight into the team after signing from Orlando Pirates, was narrowly wide and Rushine de Reuck put two close-in headers wide of goal.
Straight after half-time, Maritzburg’s goalkeeper Richard Ofori showed his class with a brilliant one-handed reflex save to deny a deflected pile driver from Kekana and then kept up a string of fine saves.
But there was no way he could stop a pile-driver from Kekana on the hour mark. There was no chance for Ofori as teh outstanding keeper could only parry it into his own net.
A late run into the penalty area almost saw a second for Kekana as it hit his shins, forcing another outstandng save.
But Maritzburg almost snatched a point at the end when Brian Onyango had his poit banl effort dsaved.