Johannesburg – Veteran Themba Zwane ended a 12-match South African Premiership goal drought by scoring to seal a 2-0 win for leaders Mamelodi Sundowns over lowly Swallows on Tuesday.
Well organised defending by the visitors kept the hosts at bay for 63 minutes before Neo Maema and Zwane struck within four minutes for a club chasing a sixth straight league title.
Maema rifled a drive from inside the box past goalkeeper Thakasani Mbanjwa and when Zwane netted from close range in Pretoria there was no way back for the Soweto outfit Swallows.
Victory gave Sundowns a seven-point advantage over fellow Pretoria club SuperSport United as the halfway mark approaches in the championship.
Sundowns, the dominant club in South Africa during the past decade as they overshadowed traditional giants Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates, have 34 points from 14 matches.
SuperSport have exceeded expectations after selling three of their best players to Sundowns and a gritty 1-0 win at Cape Town City lifted them to 27 points.
Masandawana recorded an 11th #DStvPrem win of the season on Tuesday evening against Swallows FC! Full match report on our website! ?
— Mamelodi Sundowns FC (@Masandawana) January 3, 2023
Promoted Richards Bay have 26 points, Chiefs 24, Pirates and Chippa United 19 each and AmaZulu 18 in a title race that is already Sundowns’ to lose
“Victory is a relief for us as we struggled to break down a tight Swallows defence,” said Sundowns coach Rulani Mokwena.
“We lacked confidence and bravery at times in the final third, but our patience paid off as the second half progressed.”
Swallows suffered a second straight loss since German Ernst Middendorp last week became the third coach this season of a once-mighty club, who slipped into the relegation zone.
SuperSport, who sold South Africa captain and goalkeeper Ronwen Williams and midfielders Teboho Mokoena and Sipho Mbule to Sundowns, continue to confound the pundits.
After taking just one point from their first three league matches, they have lost only one of the following 11 under pragmatic coach Gavin Hunt, who is enjoying a second stint at United.
Bradley Grobler was the match-winner in Cape Town, nodding in a cross on 82 minutes for his seventh goal that put him level with Burundian Bonfils-Caleb Bimenyimana of Chiefs at the top of the charts.