Monday 19 March 2018

Football: African champions Sundowns win, move off bottom

Football: African champions Sundowns win, move off bottom
(AFP (eng) 11/03/16)
Football: African champions Sundowns win, move off bottom

African champions Mamelodi Sundowns won for the first time in the South African Premiership this season Wednesday and climbed off the bottom of the table.

The Pretoria club triumphed 2-0 at Polokwane City thanks to goals from Percy Tau and Zimbabwean Khama Billiat, two stars of the 2016 CAF Champions League triumph.

Sundowns became African champions for the first time 11 days ago by defeating Zamalek of Egypt 3-1 on aggregate in the final.

But a domestic fixture backlog meant they had little time to celebrate only the second South African success in the premier African club competition.

They defeated Polokwane in a League Cup tie last Thursday only to lose at home against Cape Town City in their second Premiership outing of the season three days later.

Many of the team that conquered Africa looked jaded against City and coach Pitso Mosimane made wholesale changes for the visit to northern city Polokwane.

Sundowns started with only two of the Champions League-winning team, full-back Tebogo Langerman and winger Tau, with Billiat coming off the bench at half-time.

Tau swept a cross past Zimbabwean goalkeeper George Chigova on 55 minutes and his cut-back enabled Billiat to score from close range with nine minutes remaining.

"We needed a win afer taking only one point from our first two Premiership matches," admitted former South Africa striker Mosimane.

"But there was no panic -- we knew it was only a matter of time before claiming our first league victory of the season."

Sundowns, who have five matches in hand on most rivals, climbed one place and Ajax Cape Town dropped to the bottom of the standings despite a 1-1 draw at Free State Stars.

It was the first match in charge for new Ajax Cape Town coach Stanley Menzo, the former Ajax Amsterdam and Netherlands goalkeeper and assistant coach.

Kaizer Chiefs, who surrendered top spot to Wits Tuesday, wasted a chance to retain first place when held 0-0 by mid-table Baroka in Indian Ocean city Durban.

Golden Arrows, who trailed Chiefs only on goal difference at the start of the week, suffered a shock 1-0 home defeat by Platinum Stars.

Goalkeeper Mbongeni Mzimela starred for Platinum, saving a penalty before converting another, while Arrows had former Fulham and Cardiff City midfielder Kagisho Dikgacoi sent off.

Wits have 16 points after matchday 8, SuperSport United 15, Chiefs, Arrows and Cape Town City 14 each and Polokwane and Orlando Pirates 10 each.

Pirates, who were humiliated 6-1 by SuperSport Tuesday, confirmed that they had accepted the resignation of Turkish coach Muhsin Ertugral.

Former Peru World Cup player Augusto Palacios, a long-serving member of Pirates' backroom staff, will take temporary charge of the Buccaneers for the fifth time.

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