Mamelodi Sundowns remain top of the DStv Premiership despite being held to a 0-0 draw by rivals SuperSport United in the Tshwane derby on Saturday afternoon.
The Sundowns coaching staff rang the changes ahead of the clash with Gaston Sirino, George Maluleka, Tebogo Langerman and Mosa Lebusa all coming into the starting lineup for the Brazilians, while Rivaldo Coetzee, Aubrey Modiba, Lyle Lakay and Ricardo Nascimento dropped out as they looked to remain top of the table.
SuperSport, who were looking to make a title statement of their own, brought in Keanan Phillips for Siya Nhlapo, while Kudakwashe Mahachi replaced Jamie Webber in the starting XI.
Sundowns looked to start on the front foot and the returning Sirino created the first chance of the clash as his early corner was headed just wide by Mothobi Mvala.
SuperSport, though, had a huge attacking threat with Bradley Grobler and Thamsanqa Gabuza up front and it was the former Pirates man who looked to create his side’s first chance as his flick-on sent through Mahachi, but the Zimbabwean couldn’t hit target with Thapelo Morena applying heavy pressure.
With 21 minutes, gone it was the big Gabuza who was proving to be a handful as a long throw-in found the striker who held up the ball before teeing up Sipho Mbule, whose powerful effort flew just wide.
It was back and forth as Sundowns then went close four minutes later with Themba Zwan smartly manoeuvring some space at the edge of the box before laying it off to Sirino, whose shot went over the bar.
Both sides looked to create further openings in the remainder of the half but it was proving difficult with the defences of both side resolute.
The scoreline was 0-0 at the break.
The Brazilians started the stronger of the two in the second stanza and went close soon after the restart as Maluleka floated the ball to the back post for Shalulile, who headed it back across goal to find Zwane, the Bafana star in turn trying to chip the onrushing Ronwen Williams but powered his effort too much and watched it sail over.
It was then SuperSport’s turn to call Denis Onyango as a Mbule corner was met by Grobler at the back post, but his goal-bound header was expertly kept out by the Uganda stopper.
With 73 minutes gone, Kermit Erasmus looked to create an opening as he held off his defender down the left touchline before slipping the ball into the box for the oncoming Zwane, but again his effort flew just wide.
Neither side could find a way to goal in the second half as it became clear they were just going cancel each other out on the day, with SuperSport earning a well-deserved point against the defending champions.
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