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15 Nov 2007 07:26
Telkom Knockout finalists Kaizer Chiefs and Mamelodi Sundowns failed to imprint a psychological advantage for their cup clash next month in a goalless draw at King’s Park Stadium on Wednesday night—but of more immediate importance, they went some way to inflicting mutual mortal blows on each other’s Premier League title aspirations.
After Ajax Cape Town clobbered Moroka Swallows 4-1 in Cape Town, Chiefs now trail the log leaders by a massive 10 points—with defending champions Sundowns only three points better off as their objective of a third successive championship begins to fade from sight.
Yet, for all these frustrations, unfulfilled objectives and a shared impotence in front of goal, the intense, uncompromising battle of PSL giants in Durban displayed PSL soccer at its best in front of the 25 000 crowd.
It was pleasing to witness the rare sight of two teams showing maximum endeavour, tough, uncompromising defending and a fair slice of enterprise and initiative—except, of course, when it came to finishing off the job with a handful of goals.
Surprise Moriri made an unexpected appearance midway through the second half following a lengthy break from soccer as a result of knee surgery, but the move failed to bare fruit as the rusty Sundowns’ kingpin missed two golden opportunities which he would, on most occasions, have transformed into goals.
However, probably the most inviting opportunity of the game fell to Chiefs, with another second-half substitute, Kaizer Motaung Junior, failing to score with the goal at his mercy in the 72nd minute as Sundowns goalkeeper Brian Baloyi produced a fearless, point-blank save.
Baloyi had little choice but to telegraph his intentions, with Motaung failing to spot the instinctive movement that almost certainly saved a goal.
But, in the main, both sets of defenders had to work overtime to maintain the status quo, with Sundowns’ peroxided Vuyo Mere often catching the eye in defence and attack while confirming that he appears a genuine prospect for 2010 World Cup honours.
“I felt we had the equipment and general ascendancy to have won an admirable game,” said Sundowns coach Gordon Igesund afterwards, “I really did. But it would be unfair not to give credit to Chiefs for holding out under pressure for long periods—and then coming back strongly for a spell in the second half.” - Sapa
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