Soccer

Sundowns and Chiefs fail to excite in PSL opener

05 August 2018 - 00:00 By MAHLATSE MPHAHLELE

In front of a capacity Pretoria crowd, the Brazilians and Amakhosi dished out lukewarm football.
Besides the two first-half goals by defenders Ramahlwe Mphahlele and Ricardo Nascimento, there was nothing much to enthuse about as the teams failed to move into top gear.
It remains to be seen how the coaches, Pitso Mosimane and his Chiefs counterpart Giovani Solinas, are going to rate the work of their players.
Mosimane went for continuity in his selection. From his last competitive match in which Sundowns beat AS Togo-Port 2-1 in the Caf Champions League last week, the only change was the introduction of Lyle Lekay for Tebogo Langerman.
Solinas also showed his hand in his first official match on the bench by starting with Siphosakhe Ntiya-Ntiya, Siphelele Ntshangase, criticised by former coach Steve Komphela last season, and Khama Billiat.The teams will probably improve as the season gains momentum but the coaches will have more questions than answers.
OUTSTRETCHED ARMS
Sundowns, they must dust themselves down for matches against Polokwane City, Highlands Park and Golden Arrows.
In between those league assignments Mosimane has the MTN8 against Arrows and a daunting trip to Casablanca, where Wydad Athletic Club lie in wait in the group stages of the Champions League.
Chiefs have Bidvest Wits, Baroka and Maritzburg United in their next three league matches and must also play Free State Stars in their MTN8 opener.
Chiefs went ahead through Mphahlele, who beat the outstretched arms of Sundowns goalkeeper Denis Onyango with a low shot after he beat Gaston Sirino on the edge of the penalty box after eight minutes.
Sundowns equalised after 25 minutes through a penalty by defender Ricardo Nascimento, who beat Itumeleng Khune, who dived the right way, after Jeremy Brockie was brought down by Daniel Cardoso.
After 37 minutes, Lekay delivered a telling cross from a free kick resulting from Katsande's reckless tackle but Brockie's well- taken volley ricocheted off the crossbar with Khune beaten from close range.Chiefs caught Sundowns on the counter after Sirino again lost the ball in the middle of the park but Billiat's close-range shot was saved by a diving Onyango and the danger was cleared just before the hour mark.
They tried to get the winner in the closing stages but had to settle for a stalemate.
Sundowns(1) 1
Kaizer Chiefs(1) 1
Sundowns - Ricardo Nascimento (25m, pen).
Kaizer Chiefs - Ramahlwe Mphahlele (8m).

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