Sundowns send Polokwane City crashing out of Nedbank Cup in pulsating four-goal thriller
During a near perfect first half, Mamelodi Sundowns ruthlessly bullied and picked apart helpless Polokwane City with four unanswered goals.
In the end, Sundowns ran out 4-0 winners to set up a mouthwatering Nedbank Cup last 16 meeting with Orlando Pirates — but co-coaches Manqoba Mngqithi, Steve Komphela and Rulani Mokwena will agree that they should have scored more.
The second half started with Aubrey Modiba, Keletso Makgalwa and Promise Mkhuma coming on for Lyle Lakay, Erasmus and Peter Shalulile and those changes disrupted their rhythm.
Mngqithi, Komphela and Mokwena made more changes with George Maluleka and Bangaly Soumahoro coming on for Lesedi Kapinga and Ricardo Mascimento and they reached the end with a clean sheet.
In the starting line-up, Sundowns co-coaches refreshed the team with the likes of goalkeeper Ricardo Goss, defender Rushine de Reuck and attackers Haashim Domingo and Kapinga getting rare starts.
Goss was elevated because of an injury to regular ‘keeper Denis Onyango while infield regulars Gaston Sirino and Themba Zwane were named on the bench with the likes of Modiba and Maluleka.
There was also a return to the bench for Makgalwa, Mkhuma and forgotten striker Mauricio Affonso, who has been out of action for a long time with an injury.
On the other hand, City coach Johnny Ferreira went with his strongest possible team that boasted experienced players like Namibian Denzel Hoaseb, Lesiba Nku, Zambian Salulani Phiri and Puleng Tlolane.
Their experience was not enough to help their team to trouble Sundowns though, who controlled the match from beginning to end as they returned to domestic football after their run in the Champions League.
Sundowns opened the scoring after 10 minutes through a close range rebound effort by on-form striker Shalulile after City goalkeeper Tebatso Phoku parried Domingo’s shot on his path.
Sundowns effectively ended the match as a contest through goals in quick succession from Lebohang Maboe and Kapinga in the 14th and 15th minutes as City had a nightmarish start to the match.
For the second goal, Erasmus capitalised on a defensive mistake by the City defence to lay the ball for Maboe and he was shortly followed by the first goal of the season for Kapinga.
City tried to launch a comeback but striker Khuda Muyaba could not find the target with only goalkeeper Goss to beat after Domingo was dispossessed of the ball on the edge of the penalty area.
The Brazilians took full control of the proceedings when Andile Jali found the back of the net with a cheeky penalty after Kapinga was hacked in the box by Siphenathi Laqwela after 26 minutes.
Sundowns were expected to run riot in the second half but the number of substitutes by the coaches disrupted their momentum as they settled for 4-0 win against this average City side.