Gutsy Chippa United frustrate champions Sundowns in Gqeberha stalemate
Chippa United held defending champions Mamelodi Sundowns to a 0-0 draw in a hard-fought DStv Premiership encounter at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Gqeberha on Tuesday evening.
As a result of this share of the spoils, the Brazilians and the Chilli Boys occupy the top two positions on the log respectively but they may be overtaken by Baroka, Golden Arrows and Swallows who are in action on Wednesday.
This result also means that Sundowns and Chippa, who are yet to beat the Brazilians in a league match, have dropped their first points of the season after they started with wins over AmaZulu and Sekhukhune United.
Sundowns will shift their focus to the MTN8 semifinal outing against Arrows at the Sugar Ray Xulu Stadium in Durban where they will be looking to get an advantage for the second leg at Lucas Moripe Stadium.
On the other hand, coach Gavin Hunt has a break of about two weeks to work on some of their deficiencies as Chippa are not involved in the MTN8 this weekend and there is the Fifa window.
The Sundowns coaching duo of Manqoba Mngqithi and Rulani Mokwena made three changes to the team that beat AmaZulu with Denis Onyango, Grant Kekana and Neo Maema in for Kennedy Mweene, Mosa Lebusa and Themba Zwane.
There was no sight of co-coach Steve Komphela, who missed this match due to a family bereavement, on the Brazilians bench, and Pretoria side's coaching duo handed Kekana his first start of the season.
Home coach Hunt made only one change from the team that started the league campaign with a hard-fought 1-0 win over Sekhukhune last weekend with Vuyolwethu Dinge in for Bienvenu Eva Nga.
There was very little goalmouth action in the first half with play saturated mostly in midfield where Mothobi Mvala, Rovaldo Coetzee, Hashim Domingo, Maema and Aubrey Modiba operated.
Sundowns did not have things their own way as Hunt had Sammy Seabi, who was replaced early in the second half with injury, Sizwe Mlindzo, Dinge and Thabiso Lebitso marshalling their midfield.
On the attack, Sundowns threatened through wingbacks Lyle Lakay and Khuliso Mudau who ran up and down the wings to deliver crosses to Peter Shalulile and late arrivals Maema and Domingo.
The threat from Chippa, who relied on counter attacks at times, came from twin attackers Mogakolodi Ngele and Maloisane Mokhele, who were closely watched by Rushine de Reuck and Kekana.
The attacking tempo increased in the second half and most of the chances fell for Sundowns, who introduced Pavol Šafranko, Gaston Sirino and Kermit Erasmus for Shalulile, Mudau and Maema.
Hunt also made changes with Peter Maloisane for Ngele, Vuyolwethu Dinge replaced Eva Nga and Siphesihle Mkhize coming in for injured Seabi as they had to settle for the share of the spoils.