Listen to SuperSport United coach Gavin Hunt and Saturday night’s much-anticipated Pretoria derby in which the PSL champions drew 1-1 with Mamelodi Sundowns at the Super Stadium was an unmitigated flop.
“It was our worst performance of the season,” lamented Hunt afterwards. “Not a very good game at all, I’m afraid.”
Sundowns coach Trott Moloto, on the other hand, described the display of his team in which Mozamambican international substitute Dario Monterio salvaged a point for the five times PSL champions with a clinical, close-range 72nd minute equaliser as “satisfying and pleasing”.
Well, as the old American vaudeville saying goes “you pays your money and you takes your pick.”
One thing for sure, however, is that it was not SuperSport who took Sundowns apart for much of the opening three-quarters of the rather uninspiring and tepid action, but Moloto himself, who surprisingly decided to dismantle The Brazilians’ line-up that had played with much aplomb in the MTN8 Final against Kaizer Chiefs earlier in the week, while making five changes.
And although The Brazilians surrendered the R8-million winner-take-all MTN8 prize to Chiefs in a penalthy shoot-out after squandering an abnormal number of sitters, the team on that occasion played with far more composure and cohesion than the one on Saturday night.
Out, however, were such stalwarts as Jorge Acuna, Surprise Moriri and Lerato Chabangu as Sundowns rang the changes in their expensive, inflated squad numbering some 30 players.
Sundowns’ woes, to a great degree, were initiated by a schoolboyish error by Brian Baloyi in the 20th minute, with The Brazilians’ goalkeeper rushing indiscreetly from his goal for a corner, stopping midway in no-man’s-land and then watching Ricardo Katza’s header lope gently into the net for a gift goal.
Despite enjoying a clear possession advantage of 57 per cent to SuperSports’ 43 per cent, Sundowns rarely looked like scoring until Monterio popped up for his match-saver.
Then, ironically, it was substitute SuperSport and former Bafana Bafana goalkeeper Andre Arendse who saved his side from a “flip flop” defeat with a breathtaking, point-blank save after Kurt Lentjies’ piledriver in referee’s optional time had goal written all over it.
Arendse, a perennial bench-warmer these days, had come onto the field in the 72nd minute when SuperSport goalkeeper Dennis Onyanga suffered a suspected torn knee ligament while attempting to save Monteiro’s equaliser.
And the cynics might claim it was a timely injury in view of Arendse performing what will probably go down as one of the PSL’s saves of the season.
Also a match-saver for SuperSport was captain Ricardo Katza, who apart from scoring his team’s goal also prevented Sundowns from scoring on another occasion with a dynamically-timed tackle.