Kaizer Chiefs and Mamelodi Sundowns played to a 0-0 stalemate at FNB Stadium in Saturday’s eagerly-anticipated Absa Premiership clashThe start of the game was delayed by 15 minutes, as supporters struggled to make their way into the stadium on time. The headline news was that former Sundowns man Leonardo Castro had been benched by Komphela.
Masandawana came close to scoring with their first attack as Khama Billiat’s ball in from the left just evaded Sibusiso Vilakazi on the stretch and trickled into the grasp of a grateful Itumeleng Khune.
There were signs of nerves from both sides early on, with both making uncharacteristic unforced errors. Perhaps the most calamitous was a miskick from Denis Onyango, but no harm came of it.
Dumisani Zuma looked to catch Onyango napping with a long-range strike in the 21st minute, but the Ugandan keeper was alert to the danger and parried it away.Bangaly Soumahoro went close to deflecting the ball into his own net shortly afterwards with Onyango beaten, but Sundowns survived the scare as it somehow stayed out.
Chiefs were well in control of the general play, but Percy Tau could so easily have broken the deadlock against the run of play 37 minutes in. Fortunately for Amakhosi, he failed to steer his close-range header past Khune, who kept it out comfortably.
Teenage Hadebe surely had his heart in his mouth in the 50th minute, when his poorly-timed challenge tripped Percy Tau. Already on a yellow card, that could have been the end of his night, but referee Daniel Bennett gave him the benefit of the doubt.
The first substitution of the game came in the 57th minute as Jeremy Brockie replaced Vilakazi. Six minutes later, Castro drew a huge cheer as he finally came on for Ryan Moon. Komphela made another attacking change in the 68th minute, bringing Gustavo Páez on for Siphiwe Tshabalala.
Brockie proved a persistent thorn in the side of the Chiefs defence as Sundowns began to target him from crosses.Perhaps sensing that his side was losing control, Komphela brought Siphelele Ntshangase on for Zuma sith just under 15 minutes plus stoppage time left. Meanwhile, Sundowns brought Gaston Sirino on for Billiat.
Khune was twice saved by the woodwork in the 78th minute, as Tau fired against the post on the turn before Brockie rattled the crossbar on the follow-up.Chiefs were presented with a golden opportunity at the other end eight minutes later, but Willard Katsande headed over the crossbar from close range.
In the end, nothing could separate the two sides. The draw suits Sundowns better than Chiefs, however, as the Brazilians now sit five points clear at the top of the log having emerged unscathed from a tough away game.