Sundowns lose title to Wits in crunch game

Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane Photo: Lefty Shivambu

Mamelodi Sundowns are licking their wounds after failing to defend their Absa Premier League title following their 2-2 draw with Maritzburg United in Atteridgeville on Wednesday night.

The Brazilians had to win their home game to keep pressure on the high-flying Bidvest Wits, who came out thriumphs on the night, and walked away with their maiden title.

With all the PSL games playing simultaneously on Wednesday, all eyes were on Sundowns and Wits.

Wits, under the guidance of Gavin Hunt, took an early lead against Polokwane City in Braamfontein, which saw Downs collapse under pressure in Pretoria.

Wits went on to easily win the game 2-0 and claim their very first ever Absa Premier League title.

They extended their lead to four points over Downs with a game left to play this season.

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Maritzburg came to Pretoria knowing that a win for them will secure a top 8 spot. Having overachieved this season, the ‘‘Team of Choice’’ knew that Downs were the team desperate for points. That showed when the Downs defence failed to deal with a cross which found Brian Onyango, who opened the scoring.

Downs tried to get an equaliser but the Maritzburg defence looked solid, denying Percy Tau and Khama Billiat a sniff at goal.

The home team pressed for the equaliser in the second half however it was not to be as Maritzburg found a second goal through Evans Rusike.

With Wits winning 2-0 in the other match, Downs’ chances were all but over until Yannick Zakri pulled one goal back for Downs with two minutes to go.

He got his brace in injury time but those heroics proved to be too little too late as the match ended 2-2.

Coach Pitso Mosimane praised his troops after the match. Despite losing the league, Mosimane said his boys kept fighting until the end.

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“I am happy for Masandawana. You can see them singing in the stands, they clearly have accepted that you can’t win them all.”

Mosimane said the fact is that his boys played 56 games this season without fatigue really kicking in.

Sundowns are still in the CAF competition and in two weeks’ time, they’ll face Es Tounis at home in the group stages.

In another PSL match, Supersport United lost 3-0 against relegation-threatened Chippa United.

Three goals in the last 20 minutes saw the “Chilli boys’’ discover their form and getting a vital win at the Nelson Mandela Bay stadium.

A few months ago, Chippa put their coach Dan Malesela on “special leave” after results were not coming their way. The team went on to lose five games in a row and with the team needing points in their last two matches, Malesela was called back to steady the ship.

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The Pretoria team had a decent season however, following Wednesday’ loss, they now find themselves 4th on the log with a game to go.

With coach Stuart Baxter becoming Bafana coach, Matsatsantsa will look to bounce back with the Nedbank Cup left to defend.

Ironically they face the same Chippa side that gave them a hiding on Wednesday.

The match will be played this Saturday at the same venue.

Another Pretoria soccer team University of Pretoria has found the going tough in the National First Division.

Amatuks finished the season on a disappointing 12th this season after they were relegated from the PSL.

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Eliot Mahlase

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