Rarely, do we see Mamelodi Sundowns dominated like they were against Orlando Pirates yesterday at Orlando Stadium, yet they still went on to win the game, beating the Buccaneers 1-0 to stretch their winning streak to fifteen games in a row.
Man of the match, and golden boot contender, Cassius Mailula scored the only goal of the match in the 6th minute to take his overall tally this season to ten goals.
Mamelodi Sundowns had to withstand a lot of pressure throughout the match, which is perhaps better illustrated by some of the statistics.
With Pirates in a rampant mood, Sundowns were forced into committing eighteen fouls, conceded nine corner kicks and numerous free kicks in dangerous areas, yet they still held on for a win.
Despite their dominance, Amabhakaniya managed only three shots on target from their ten attempts, while the Brazilians had four on target from six attempts.
It was through set-pieces where Pirates were able to threaten Sundowns, and not so much through open play, which is the reason for their meager three shots on target, even though they literally set up camp around the Sundowns penalty area.
Downs often had eight to nine players behind the ball when they were defending deep, which denied Pirates opportunities to penetrate their way into the penalty area.
While Pirates had a lot of set-pieces, Mothobi Mvala, Grant Kekana, and Ronwen Williams dealt well with their threat in the air.
Mamelodi Sundowns coach, Rulani Mokwena, will be grateful for the tough test his team got from Orlando Pirates.
With the CAF champions League resuming next week, Downs needed the kind of test Amabhakaniya gave them.
Tactically, they had to play outsìde of their comfort zone, by spending extended periods of time without the ball, and being forced to fend wave after wave of attacks, which is something they will have to deal a lot with in the Champions League, especially away from home.
But what will please Mokwena even more, is that his charges passed the test with flying colours, and still managed to create better chances.
“I thought Pirates dominated, but we had the better chances – but congratulations to the players and everyone associated with the clubs,” a relieved Mokwena said after the game.
For Jose Riveiro, it was a case of the old ghost back to haunt his side once again, as they failed to score, despite their dominance.
“Very intense game from both teams, I think they punished us from our first mistake. I think we dominated the game from there, but couldn’t get the result,” said Riveiro.