Home team keep hopes alive after tense time against Downs
Chippa United put up a brave fight in forcing a goalless draw with Mamelodi Sundowns in their MTN8 semifinal first leg at Nelson Mandela Bay stadium yesterday.
Defending Premier Soccer League champions Sundowns were pushed all the way by Dan “Dance” Malesela’s determined young side and coach Pitso Mosimane’s star-studded lineup will leave Port Elizabeth relieved in the knowledge they had not conceded a goal.
Chippa, on the other hand, will realise that it is all there to play for going into the second leg at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria on Wednesday September 21. An away goal or two for the Chilli Boys at Loftus will certainly set the cat among the pigeons when they continue their pursuit of a maiden cup final.
Although there may have been a couple more chances for Sundowns, Chippa had their moments but unfortunately could not find the net.
One would have expected the Chippa youngsters, who are made up mostly of former National First Division players, to have suffered from stage fright and make silly mistakes, but none of that happened.
The players showed no fear and played their normal game.
They will also take comfort in the fact that they managed to keep Sundowns at bay in front of goal.
But they will now have to dig very deep when they travel to Tshwane to face Sundowns.
The first half was a heated affair and shots at goal were flying in from the outset.
Soccer lovers, who came out in their numbers, witnessed brilliant saves from both goalkeepers at NMB Stadium.
Khama Billat’s sizzling attempt at goal in the 22nd minute was comfortably caught by Chippa’s No 1 shot-stopper Daniel Akpeyi.
Minutes later, Andile Mbenyane also tried his luck at goal after he received a pass from Buyani Sali but his shot was handled by the Sundowns’ defence.
Akpeyi came to Chippa’s rescue once more when he stopped an ontarget strike from Sibusiso Vilakazi from going into the net.
The Chilli Boys turned up the heat in the second half as they were all over the visitors while desperately looking for the goal that would put them ahead.
Only seconds into the half, an unmarked Thembinkosi Lorch sailed easily through the Brazilians’ defence to find himself in front of the goal, but his strike hit the right side of the net.
Ivorian midfielder Yannick Zakri made his Sundowns’ debut in the 54th minute when he replaced Percy Tau as the visitors looked to break the deadlock.
In the 68th minute, Chippa launched an attack and they made an appeal for a penalty after the ball hit Wayne Arendse’s hand, but the referee waved play on.
Chippa and Sundowns pushed for a late goal in the dying minutes of the cup game, but it never came and the match ended in a goalless stalemate.
Malesela’s troops have only two days to recover from this bonecrunching match before they play SuperSport United in a league fixture on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Chippa United’s development team beat Platinum Stars 1-0 in their MultiChoice Diski Challenge opener at Gelvandale Stadium on Saturday.