Category : Football | Posted on 2020-08-08 By : Mpendulo Sithole Image : Twitter/BidvestWits
After 146 days without football due to the hiatus Covid-19 pandemic, the Premier Soccer League (PSL) returned to action as Mamelodi Sundowns and Bidvest Wits walked into an empty Orlando Stadium for a Nedbank Cup semi-final clash in which 'Masandawana' managed to advance to the final by defeating the 'Clever Boys' 3-2.
It was probably a weird moment for both teams to kick-off their first resumption game without their loyal football fans chanting for them inside the stadium. Wits have a famous Brass Band that cheers for them during their games and Sundowns have a growing 'Ka Bo Yellow' fanbase known for singing during games and connecting with the club after the game. However, the Covid-19 pandemic stripped the clubs their privilege of having fans in the stadium.
The first half proved to be a somewhat disjointed affair, with both sides understandably lacking match sharpness after a lengthy layoff from football.
Nonetheless, the game started very well with both teams swapping possession and creating chances. For the 'Clever Boys', their first real scoring chance came in the 12th minute, when Deon Hotto fired a superb shot outside Sundowns box and goalkeeper Dennis Onyango couldn't handle the ball as it fell to Cole Alexander who couldn't execute the ball into the back of the net.
'Masandawana' was fortunate enough to break the deadlock on a 38-minute mark with a penalty that was comfortably converted by Ricardo Nascimento. The 'Clever Boys' defender Buhle Mkhwanazi was not so clever inside his box as he fouled Motjeka Madisha and the referee, Noxolo Bhadi blew his whistle for a penalty.
In the second-half, Terrence Dzvukamanja equalized for the 'Students' on 75th minute as he stole the ball from Motjeka Madisha in the middle of the park and made a solo run to face Onyango and the striker sensationally lobbed the ball over the goalkeeper.
However, super-sub Keletso Makgalwa restored Sundowns lead on the 80th-minute mark after Wits keeper Brighton Mhlongo made a hauler from a ball distributed by Onyango and Makgalwa benefitted from the mistake to put 'Masandawana in front again.
Wits fighting spirit became evident as Dzukamanja scored his brace and equalized again for Wits on 85th minute after a wonderful build-up and he managed to dribble Madisha just to finish it comfortably past Onyango.
Another Sundowns super-sub Lyle Lakay sent 'Masandawana' to their second domestic final of the season as he scored a well-executed free-kick in the last minute of the game. The game ended in a five-goal thriller in which Sundowns were victorious and will face Bloemfontein Celtic in the 2020 Nedbank Cup final. The final will be played on the 8 of September 2020.
Wits head coach Gavin Hunts was disappointed about the loss as he believes his side deserved to go through to the final after the professionalism they pulled in the game despite emotions going on as the club was sold.
"I'm very disappointed, I don't think we deserved that, we deserved much more out of the game. The first goal was a penalty, second one was a huge mistake, the third goal was a foul and then we got ourselves behind because of that and we came back very well," Hunt explained to the media.
"But we certainly didn't deserve this, but that's football and that's our life as Bidvest Wits at the moment, so we will pick ourselves up and prepare for our game on Wednesday," he added.
Sundowns coach Pitso Mosimane was happy with a win but he took his time to acknowledge Gavin Hunt's Wits fighting spirit as the soon-to-be-defunct outfit gave Sundowns a run for their money.
"Wits is a very good and strong team, you could see that they never gave up, they don't want to die, we had to score three goals win the match, they kept coming back," Pitso told the media.
"This is not a team that has been sold here, this is not a team that you say their future is no longer there at Wits, It is unbelievable, it's a good team and their coach Gavin Hunt is a fighter you know he will never give up, this was a warning to other teams that Wits is still alive and kicking," Pitso added.
Sundowns will be preparing to face Orlando Pirates in the league encounter at Dobsonville Stadium on Tuesday, 11 August 2020 while Wits will play Kaizer Chiefs on the following day, 12 August 2020.