Sundowns march on with win over struggling Baroka
Mamelodi Sundowns have gone 24 matches unbeaten in the league and have also stretched their lead at the top of the DStv Premiership to a whooping 15 points after they beat Baroka 2-1 at Loftus on Tuesday.
Their lead may be slightly reduced by Orlando Pirates‚ who kicked off in the late match on Tuesday against Swallows‚ but that won’t bother the coaching trio of Manqoba Mngqithi‚ Steve Komphela and Rulani Mokwena.
These are worrying times for Baroka as they remain rooted to the foot of the table and are faced with a mountain to climb to revive their wrecked campaign where they have only managed two win from 12 starts.
Baroka have managed four losses and two draws during their last six matches and they will be under pressure to get something out of their remaining two matches of the year against Stellenbosch and Royal AM.
For Sundowns‚ they will be looking to maintain their unbeaten run against Pirates‚ AmaZulu and Marumo Gallants before they go to the festive break.
Baroka coach Kgoloko Thobejane started the match surprisingly without key striker Evidence Makgopa and key midfielder Nhlanhla Mgaga who were named on the bench.
For the Sundowns‚ coaches Mngqithi‚ Komphela and Mokwena made two changes to the team that beat SuperSport United 1-0 in the Tshwane derby on Saturday.
On-form Andile Jali and Kermit Erasmus started on the places of Neo Maema and Thabiso Kutumela who were ruled out of this match due to respective injuries.
The first real chance of the match was for the visitors who but a snap shot by attacker Sekela Sithole was saved by Denis Onyango after they found their way into the Sundowns danger area.
After 22 minutes‚ Sundowns suffered a huge blow when reliable striker Peter Shalulile was stretched off the field with possible concussion after he collided with a Baroka defender during an aerial duel.
Shalulile was replaced by Pavol Šafranko and the Slovakian attacker was sacrificed for defender Ricardo Nascimento late in the second half as Mngqithi‚ Komphela and Mokwena reinforced their defence.
Baroka had another good chance of opening the scoring just before the half hour mark but Richard Mbulu‚ who was unmarked in the box‚ blasted his shot over the cross-bar instead of picking a spot.
In one of Sundowns clear cut chances‚ Sphelele Mkhulise was released into the box by Thapelo Morena but his shot was cleared for safety by Baroka goalkeeper Oscarine Masuluke.
The first half ended in dramatic fashion as Erasmus was given his marching orders by referee Akhona Makalima but Sundowns reacted immediately with the opener through Rivaldo Coetzee.
The opening goal‚ which is the third of Coetzee’s career and was the last kick of the half‚ came after Masuluke completely failed to connect with Lyle Lakay’s free-kick.
Baroka equalised after 71 minutes through Mbulu who dribbled past De Reuck inside the box before beating Onyango with a well drilled low shot on the near post.
The Brazilians settled the match eight minutes from time when Themba Zwane found the back of the net after he received the ball from Morena on the edge of the box.
Source: ARENA Holdings.