Sundowns inch closer to title

2014-04-24 07:45
Pitso Mosimane (Gallo)

Johannesburg - Mamelodi Sundowns are two victories away from a first Premiership title in seven years after closest rivals Kaizer Chiefs and Wits University drew 0-0 Wednesday.

"Pitso Mosimane (Sundowns coach) should send me a good bottle of wine," joked Wits coach Gavin Hunt after his side had the better of an often cagey clash.

Wits were foiled by the woodwork in each half before Katlego Mphela almost won it for Chiefs at the death with a header that rebounded off the post.

There was no sign of Mosimane in a sell-out 5 000 crowd at Bidvest Stadium in Johannesburg, but he has the richest African domestic prize well within his sights.

Record five-time Premiership champions Sundowns host Pretoria neighbours SuperSport United this weekend and visit Maritzburg United two weeks later.

A couple of victories and Sundowns, a club bankrolled by mining billionaire Patrice Motsepe, will have an unassailable lead.

The team that have won their last nine league games are on 61 points, and defending champions Chiefs have 56 and Wits 52 with three fixtures each to play.

At stake is a R10 million champions' cheque and a place in the even more lucrative 2015 CAF Champions League.

The runners-up also secure a place in the premier African club competition and the side finishing third goes into the CAF Confederation Cup with the FA Cup winners.

Wits and Chiefs were desperate for maximum points at a tiny ground bordered at one end by the Johannesburg-Pretoria highway and a planetarium at the other.

On a chilly mid-South African autumn night that saw Wits captain Sibusiso Vilakazi wear gloves, Chiefs started forcefully but a tension-releasing early goal eluded them.

Beanpole striker Sthembiso Ngcobo, a 30-year-old Chiefs reject flourishing this season at Wits, forced goalkeeper Itumeleng Knune into a good block.

A soft, edge-of-box free-kick midway through the opening half offered Chiefs a chance only for leading Premiership scorer Bernard Parker to shoot straight at Moeneeb Josephs.

Ngcobo was a constant threat and came agonisingly close near half-time with his header off a corner grazing the top of the crossbar.

Chiefs had another let-off four minutes into the second half as unmarked Asive Langwe hammered a deep cross against the post with Khune beaten.

Ngcobo had the ball in the net just past the hour mark, but was correctly ruled offside, and substitute Mphela almost broke the deadlock amid late Chiefs pressure.

Bottom club Lamontville Golden Arrows kept alive a slim chance of dodging the drop with a 1-0 home win over SuperSport United in Durban courtesy of a Bongi Ntuli goal.

The 'Backheel Boys' closed the gap to three points behind behind second-last Free State Stars, who have played two matches less.

Read more on:    mamelodi sundowns  |  psl  |  pitso mosimane  |  soccer

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