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Phathutshedzo Nange of Kaizer Chiefs. Picture: PHILIP MAETA/BACKPAGEPIX
Phathutshedzo Nange of Kaizer Chiefs. Picture: PHILIP MAETA/BACKPAGEPIX

It was billed as the “takeover” of FNB Stadium, also known as the “Calabash”. and while the attendance was disappointing as many didn’t brave the cold, wet weather, it lived up to expectations as champions Mamelodi Sundowns were held to a 1-1 draw by Kaizer Chiefs on Sunday.

As expected, the Sundowns supporters were outnumbered by their Amakhosi counterparts, but they shouted the loudest to cheer on their champion team.

While the Yellow Nation, as Downs supporters are known, was outnumbered they outsang the gold and black of Chiefs fans.

Occupying the stands on the far side, the Sundowns fans found their voice from kickoff and were far noisier and more fanatic than the Chiefs supporters.

With the Premier Soccer League (PSL) title already in the bag, champions Sundowns fielded an attacking lineup, with fringe players Mosa Lebusa, Lehlohonolo Maboe, Gaston Sirino, Divine Lunga and scorer of their goal Aubrey Modiba starting.

But they struggled to find their rhythm in a first half that saw both teams create good scoring opportunities, with top scorer Peter Shalulile producing a great save from Chiefs keeper Bruce Bvuma.

Perhaps frustrated, Sundowns co-coach Rhulani Mokwena headed for the change room a minute before the halftime whistle.

Playing three centre backs, Sundowns packed their midfield and looked for openings to penetrate using the creativity from playmakers Themba Zwane and Sirino while central midfielders Andile Jali and Sphelele Mkhulise won the battle against Cole Alexander and Phathutshedzo Nange.

Sundowns took three minutes into the second half to open the scoring with Modiba scoring a wonder goal after a fluid team move.

Chiefs attackers Khama Billiat and Keagan Dolly, the two creative players who usually combine to  turn on the style for Amakhosi, were largely anonymous throughout the 90 minutes.

Even talented but much-maligned Zambian attacker Lazarous Kambole, who was nearly offloaded at the beginning of the season, could not combine with Billiat and Dolly.

Chiefs co-coaches Arthur Zwane and Dillon Sheppard pulled off Leonardo Castro for Kgaogelo Sekgota and Kambole for Samir Nurković to add numbers and height in attack.

Having had a quite game, Nange equalised for Chiefs in the 76th minute, driving the ball from the edge of the box past Sundowns keeper Reyaad Pieterse to make it 1-1.

While Sundowns continued to probe looking to double their lead, Nange’s goal gave Chiefs some confidence. After the changes, Chiefs made more entries in the Downs final third and one of them led to a penalty.

With six minutes remaining, Dolly stepped up and directed his spot kick straight at Pieterse, who made a double save to keep his side in the match.

The draw is a setback for Chiefs’ objective of finishing as runners-up and qualifying for the next Caf Champions League, or third as consolation to take part in the Caf Confederation Cup.

With 43 points and two matches remaining, it means second-placed Cape Town City, on 48 points, will need a point from a possible six to take Chiefs out of the equation.

Chiefs play Sekhukhune United in their next match and will close their campaign with a home clash against relegation-threatened Swallows on the final day, May 21.

Chiefs have managed a meagre 21 points in their 13 PSL home matches from a possible 42 this season.

For Sundowns, the point took them to 62, which means they will fall short of their targeted record of 70 points.

They play Stellenbosch and Royal in their remaining two matches.

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