Sundowns avoid banana skin with win over VUT

Mamelodi Sundowns have eased into the quarterfinals of the Nedbank Cup with a 2-0 win over lower league Vaal Universal of Technology at the Lucas Moripe Stadium on Sunday.

There were hints of another upset from the fourth-tier VUT, who took out top-flight Golden Arrows in the previous round, after the first-half ended goalless. But when the Brazilians broke the deadlock through Wayne Arendse, there was only ever going to be one winner.

Sundowns made 11 changes compared to the line-up which started against SuperSport United in the previous round, with coach Pitso Mosimane looking to rest his key men ahead of the start of the CAF Champions League quarterfinals next weekend.

‘Downs nonetheless enjoyed early dominance and created the first clear chance just before the quarter-hour mark when Bangaly Soumahoro headed on target from Lyle Lakay’s free kick, but VUT goalkeeper Obakeng Naane did well to punch the effort away.

Five minutes later Sundowns needed Soumahoro to do some great work at the other end of the field, blocking a goal-bound shot from Takalani Mawelewele. VUT felt the Ivorian defender used his hand to make the block, but the referee waved away their appeals for a penalty.

The hosts again threatened through Soumahoro when he head wide from Jose Ali Meza’s corner kick a few minutes before the interval, but ultimately the Brazilians would have been disappointed to head into halftime with the score locked at 0-0.

Sundowns upped the intensity after the break and claimed the lead nine minutes after the restart: Ali Meza’s corner kick picked out Wayne Arendse, who powered home a header to break the deadlock and put the heavyweights in control.

Or so they thought: VUT almost immediately won a penalty through Tekanolebogang Mampa, who was clumsily fouled by young right-back Nicholus Lukhubeni. Reitumetse Hlongwane took on the spot kick but blazed it off target.

Midway through the second half Vaal threatened again, with Thapelo Bodiba getting on the end of a corner kick, but his header was no threat to Sundowns goalkeeper Kennedy Mweene.

However, the game was killed off as a contest when ‘Downs scored their second in the 71st minute. Lebohang Maboe tried to chip a ball to the far post from the left flank, but a deflection took it into the path of substitute Phakamani Mahlambi, who easily netted from close range for 2-0.

With Kaizer Chiefs, Orlando Pirates, SuperSport United and Maritzburg United all eliminated and Bidvest Wits facing a tricky game against Chippa United tomorrow, Sundowns could well end up as the only team from the top six of the current PSL log to advance into the quarterfinals of the Nedbank Cup.

Mamelodi Sundowns (0) 2 (Arendse 54’, Mahlambi 71’)

Vaal University of Technology 0

Sundowns: Mweene, Lukhubeni, Soumahoro, Arendse, Lakay, Maboe, Mabunda, Seabi, Mkhulise, Makgalwa (Ngoma 60’), Ali Meza (Mahlambi 69’)

VUT: Naane, Mokondo, Tema, Lekalakala, Sibisi, Mawelewele, Mampa (Raseasala 77’), Bodiba, Chesane, Hlongwane, Mgidi (Nkoe 64’)

Sphelele Mkhulise and Ramphasane Chesane