The MTN8 reaches the second legs of the respective semi-finals this weekend. Both produced rather different draws last weekend with Orlando Pirates and SuperSport United drawing to a 0-0 stalemate and Mamelodi Sundowns and Moroka Swallows involved in a six-goal thriller.
Swallows travelled to the Lucas Moripe Stadium with the Downs fans expecting another Soweto giant will be buried with an avalanche of goals, this after they dismantled Kaizer Chiefs 4-1 in the quarter-finals. However, The Dube Birds came out to play and took a two-goal lead through Felix Obada and Ashraf Hendricks. A controversial penalty scored by skipper Teko Modise and a clinical goal by Hlompho Kekana levelled matters. Bennett Chenene then put Swallows up again to take a huge away goal rule advantage ahead of the second leg until new signing Edward Manqele responded with an absolute cracker to give Downs a draw, setting up a potential humdinger when the two teams meet again on Sunday.
This will be the 11th cup meeting between the teams, starting with a Bob Save final in 1989, and Sundowns are still waiting for their first cup victory against Swallows. The Birds have won eight of the clubs’ 10 cup matches and racked up no less than 24 goals while conceding just nine. The most recent cup game, prior to last weekend, between them came in the first round of the Telkom Knockout last season, with Swallows claiming a comprehensive 3-0 win thanks to goals from Lefa Tsutsulupa, Lerato Chabangu and Siyabonga Nomvethe. While the Birds have traditionally dominated in cup meetings, across all competitions Sundowns have a good record against the Soweto side, with 27 wins compared to Swallows’ 19 wins in 64 matches. Sundowns are unbeaten in the last seven league matches against Swallows and beat them 4-0 at home last season before drawing 2-2 at the Dobsonville Stadium in the second round.
Swallows started the season off by defeating AmaZulu 2-0 in their quarter-final, with Lerato Chabangu and Siyabonga Nomvethe scoring the goals. The Birds then slumped to a 3-1 defeat away to Platinum Stars in their league opener with their consolation goal netted by Chabangu. Swallows did not have a good run in cup competitions last season and new coach Zeca Marques is adamant Swallows will be a force to be reckoned with under his tutelage. “I want to be successful. I want to achieve things and I want this team to be successful. I’m aware that we have to build on last season,” he said.
Mamelodi Sundowns are hoping that their long wait for major silverware will come to an end soon. Sundowns have gone nearly five seasons without a trophy since they lifted the Nedbank Cup in 2008. The Brazilians, who have always assembled an expensive squad, are under pressure from their demanding fans for instant results. Downs coach Johan Neeskens is very well aware of this and wants his side to start collecting trophies after he endured a miserable first season with the club during the last campaign. He believes he is in good stead after spending a season with The Brazilians and now knowing the quality of the league and his opponents. Sundowns racked up a record 4-1 victory over Kaizer Chiefs in their quarter-final, with Thamsanqa Sangweni, Tebogo Langerman, Lebohang Mokoena and Edward Manqele all getting their names on the score sheet. The Brazilians also began their league campaign on a winning note, defeating top flight rookies Chippa United 1-0 thanks to another goal from Sangweni.
This should once again be an open match with both sides implementing their attacking styles. Sundowns have looked more lethal in recent matches and are tipped to nip the win.