PRETORIA – This is not what Pitso Mosimane expected to see when he asked for Mamelodi Sundowns to also be given a team from the lower leagues in the Nedbank Cup.
The Sundowns’ coach jokingly said that he wants his team to be drawn with either Amavarara or Vaal University of Technology in the last 16 having faced a tough encounter against their neighbours SuperSport United in the last 32. Mosimane got his wish, but things didn’t turn out the way he wanted them to be with the SAB League side frustrating him and his team. The only solace for Mosimane is that Sundowns advanced to the quarterfinals. They had to work for it though as VUT held their own.
The confidence that VUT coach Standford Nkoane wears proudly rubbed off on the club’s supporters. They loudly chanted VUT’s name when the announcer asked the crowd to name the teams that had already qualified for the quarterfinals before this match kicked off. When he reminded them that they still have a game to play, they paid him no mind and continued with their insistence that VUT are in the quarterfinals despite there being a massive obstacle in the form of the reigning South African champions.
More than 10 buses shipped in the VUT fans. They created an electric atmosphere, out-singing Sundowns’ fans in their own backyard. While the VUT fans dominated the stands, their players put on a plucky performance against the former African champions. They weren’t over awed by the occasion. They kept their shape and discipline, even confidently playing the ball from the back.
VUT’s resolute defence frustrated Sundowns, but the Brazilians kept their composure and continued playing the patience game knowing that the amateurs wouldn’t keep up the tempo and concentration for 90 minutes. One slip-up and Sundowns took the lead through Wayne Arendse who headed Ali Meza’s corner kick. Three minutes later VUT won a penalty, waking up the solemn crowd that looked dejected. Instead of pulling one back for the varsity side, Reitumetse Hlongwane skied it over the bar.
Sundowns made it two through Phakamani Mahlambi who started from the bench. Mahlambi benefitted from sloppy defending. VUT captain Sibusiso Mokondo had a brain fart moment when he just stopped, expecting the referee to judge in his favour. It was a schoolboy mistake that proved costly as it knocked the wind out of the visitor’s sails.
Sundowns’ supporters then found their confidence and voice. They taunted VUT by singing the nursery rhyme banna ba sekolo etlang sekolong (school children go to school). In the song school children are called to go to school because the bell has rung.
Yesterday Sundowns rung the bell on VUT’s Nedbank Cup campaign. It’s been a memorable run with the varsity side having knocked out Golden Arrows in the last 32 and got a chance to rub shoulders with the nine-time PSL champions.
Sundowns played a B-team with their main focus on their trip to Egypt where they will take on Al-Ahly in the first leg of their quarterfinals clash in the CAF Champions League.