In The News South Africa Sport

Champions Sundowns held by Chiefs in season’s pipe-opener at Loftus

PRETORIA, South Africa, August 4 – There was no separating two of the country’s biggest sides as Mamelodi Sundowns and Kaizer Chiefs played out to a hard-fought 1-1 draw at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday afternoon.

Both sides were looking to start the season with a victory of a rival and a title contender with this fixture needed nothing more in the way of bragging rights following Khama Billiat’s switch from Sundowns to Chiefs in the off-season.

And it was Billiat’s new side who took the lead in the eighth minute albeit against the run of play as right back Ramahlwe Mphahlele dispossessed Gaston Sirino and slotted his effort past Denis Onyango.

Midway through the first half Sundowns were level as Ricardo Nascimento beat Itumeleng Khune from the spot after Daniel Cardoso brought down Jeremy Brockie.

The second period continued much like the first with Sundowns continuing to look dangerous on attack with Uruguayan Sirino particularly impressive for the hosts.

Chiefs were impressive under new coach Giovanni Solinas, who was asking a lot of his defenders as they held a high line and were quick to the man in possession. That constant pressure paid off with Sirino and Brockie failing to create much out of the limited time on the ball.

Sirino did find one opportunity to turn and shoot following excellent work by Lyle Lakay down the left flank but the Uruguayan’s effort, while powerful, swerved wide of Khune’s goals. Siphiwe Tshabalala, like his opposite number Themba Zwane in the first half, failed to find the back of the net after finding a rare moment of time and space on the edge of the area.

Neither side were able to create the golden chance to decide the encounter, instead settling for a point to open their new campaign. (ANA)

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