CAPE TOWN – Mamelodi Sundowns, the aristocrats of South African football, hardly looked the part as they were held to a goalless draw by Swallows FC in a DStv Premiership match at the Dobsonville Stadium on Saturday evening.
The newly-crowned champions Sundowns were made to look rather ordinary by Swallows, who managed to secure a record 19th draw after 28 matches this season. Sundowns now head the log with 61 points, and Swallows are in fifth place with 43 points. They each have only one defeat this season.
Their first-round encounter in Atteridgeville also ended in a stalemate after Swallows scored at the death to force a 1-all draw.
The Sundowns team showed seven changes from the midweek team that annexed the Premiership. Their Manqoba Mngqithi explained that there were several players in the squad that needed game time. One was goalkeeper Reyaad Pieterse, who enjoyed his first start of the season.
The game enjoyed a lively start after both the teams were looking to impose themselves on the match. Sundowns were first to grab the initiative but failed to create any real chances of note.
Swallows were forced to settle for a defensive role, and they seemed to relish the role after dispossessing Sundowns a few times. Midfielder Musa Nyatama stalked into the Swallows attack unmarked and managed an early strike after a fine through pass from striker Ruzaigh Gamildien. Pieterse saved the effort, and as it turned out, this was the only time he was stung into action in the first half.
As a result of the enterprising start, there were as many as five corners in the opening 15 minutes. Swallows enjoyed a 3-2 count. During this stage, there was only one shot on target, and it was struck by Swallows.
Swallows’ winger Kgaogelo Sekgota was a threat out wide, and Sundowns’ defence battled to contain his dribbles down the left flank. Early on, he managed two crosses into the goalmouth, but Swallows could not exploit.
As the half wore on, Swallows managed to secure more possession, and by the time referee Thando Ndzandzeka blew for halftime, the teams enjoyed an equal share of possession. Also, towards the end of the half, the pace slowed down appreciably, and very little goalmouth action.
Strangely Sundowns did not manage a first-half shot on goal, and Swallows goalkeeper Sanele Tshabalala lived a charmed life.
Eight minutes into second-half play, midfielder Aubrey Modiba unleashed a powerful drive from well outside the box, but Tshabalala was alert to the danger and tipped the ball over the crossbar for a corner.
Sundowns’ leading scorer Peter Shalulile had a scoring chance in the 72nd minute but his parting shot went fractionally wide.
Swallows’ best scoring effort emerged 12 minutes from the end, after substitute Kagiso Malinga won an aerial duel plumb in front, but his powerful header was held out by the crossbar.