Uganda Cranes captain Denis Onyango and his side Mamelodi Sundowns missed the chance to reduce the gap behind leaders Kaizer Chiefs to just a single point, as they were held to a goalless draw by Pirates, leaving the Brazilians three points behind Chiefs, having played the same number of games in the ABSA Premier League.
Sundowns looked better in the first part of of play as they pushed the Buccaneers high-up the pitch with possession rotation from Rivaldo Coetzee, Hlompho Kekana and Mosa Lebusa.
Consequently, Wayne Sandilands made the evening’s first save after turning Themba Zwane’s near post attempt behind for a corner-kick shortly at the midway point, with Masandawana pushing from the front.
However, Pirates, who surprisingly didn’t have star man Thembinkosi Lorch, started growing into the game as the half went by although they hardly troubled Onyango. Their final touch up front seemed wanting and let down the side from Soweto.
Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane admits the Buccaneers were more fresher in the second half as Sundowns only registered one shot on target for the entire game.
“In a game of two halves for us, we were much better in the first-half, second-half we have to give it to Orlando Pirates, let’s be honest and they missed two chances to be honest. Okay, we had one [chance] but not really convincing,” Mosimane told SuperSport TV.
“The second-half they took it, you could see they were much stronger, much fresher than us in the second-half. We survived a bit, Mosa [Lebusa] calf [injury], you know. But it’s okay, it’s a good point, we’ll take a point. We’re playing Orlando Pirates remember?”
The multiple league-winning coach went on to explain his reasons behind introducing Jose Ali Meza and Andile Jali in the second stanza.
“We put Ali [Meza] there to put more fresh legs, I think Keletso [Makgalwa] ran enough, ‘Mshishi’ [Themba Zwane] also, we put Andile [Jali] to help us in midfield because we could see that they were going through, to make sure that we strengthen the midfield because we had a problem there.
“They were going through and I played a three-man midfield. But it’s football, we’re going for the long haul, it’s a good point, don’t undermine a point against Orlando Pirates. It’s a big point, two tough games, [Bidvest] Wits and Orlando Pirates. Ja, not bad. It’s still a long haul, we’re still going,” he said.
It remains advantage Kaizer Chiefs as they have a chance to stretch their lead to six points tomorrow if they can beat Bidvest Wits.
Onyango and colleagues’ next game is a trip to Highlands Park on Friday.