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03 Feb 2008 09:18
In the wake of much bravado preceding what was termed the “Gauteng Challenge”, Mamelodi Sundowns and Moroka Swallows edged home on penalty kicks against Kaizer Chiefs and SuperSport United respectively in what were no more than gloried friendlies at Atteridgeville’s Super Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Both games finished with the teams level 1-1 after 90 minutes and the facade was completed when Swallows edged home 4-3 and Sundowns 5-4 in the curiously ordained penalty shoot-outs.
But a win is a win, no matter the circumstances, and there were mournful expressions among Chiefs supporters in the 9 000-strong crowd—and a few tears as well after Downs’ Vuyo Mere sealed the issue in favour of Sundowns with the 14th kick of the penalty stanza.
Brian Baloyi, who replaced Calvin Marlin in the Sundowns goal for the second half, emerged as the muted hero and showed admirable anticipation while saving two of Chiefs’ penalties, with veteran Thabo Mooki shooting wide for Amakhosi’s third miss.
Two-metre-tall Lungisani Ndlela gave Sundowns the lead in the 11th minute of scheduled play when he made good use of his extra reach to pivot on to the ball in the penalty area and guide it into the corner of the net.
Chiefs scored a second-half equaliser through Zimbabwean international Tenashe Nengomasha and then survived some uneasy moments in the closing stages as the defending Premier Soccer League champions sought a rare success over Amakhosi in the closing stages.
Although the Brazilians twice surrendered their advantage in the shoot-out, a composed Mere assured the elusive victory finally realised.
The significance of the occasion was reflected in no fewer than 10 substitutions taking place in the opening game between Swallows and SuperSport, with the M-Net club’s captain, Ricardo Katza, going through a spate of contrasting emotions in the match.
Katza conceded the penalty from which Evans Gwekwerere opened the score for Swallows before making some amends with an equalising goal of his own, only to miss one of the two spot kicks—Siboniso Gaxa missed the other—that sent his team sliding to defeat.—Sapa
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