Sundowns inaugurated DStv Prem champs, Maritzburg hold on

Mamelodi Sundowns have been officially inaugurated as the 2022/23 DStv Premiership champions following their 1-1 stalemate draw against prime relegation candidates Maritzburg United at the Loftus Versfeld on Tuesday night.

It was a night of celebration for Sundowns, while it was a night of desperation for Maritzburg, who needed a win to salvage their topflight football status.

Teenage sensation Siyabonga Mabena walked straight into the line-up on a school night following his return from national team duty with the U17 at the Africa Cup of Nation (Afcon) in Algeria.

The Team of Choice got the first chance of the game in the 15th minute when France international Amadou Soukouna, who made a clever run and found himself one-on-one with Denis Onyango, but the veteran goalkeeper was equal to the task.

The visitors kept on knocking on the door and Soukouna was at it again when he made a similar run from the flank and went around Onyango, but his effort was cleared off the line by defender Musa Lebusa, who recovered well to make a goal saving clearance.

Moments later, Maritzburg would rue their two missed opportunities when skillful winger Surprise Ralani opened the scoring with a cheeky chip over goalkeeper Renaldo Leaner, following some good passage of play which saw a super assist from Neo Maema and go into the break 1-0 up.

During half-time, Sundowns chairman Thlopie Motsepe alongside club ambassador Tiyani Mabunda made a class-act when they presented the family of the late Alex ‘Goldfingers’ Shakoane with a signed memorabilia.

Both sides returned in the second half with some great intent, as they created enough goal scoring opportunities at both ends, with Leaner keeping his side in the game when he made a point blank save from a Gaston Sirino effort in the 60th minute.

Coach Fadlu Davids made substitutions which proved to be vital, as Jose Ali Meza tormented his former side in the 71st minute after a quick counterattack from deep into their own half, to hand his side a lifeline and leapfrog Chippa United and Marumo Gallants from the relegation zone.

Maritzburg will be keeping a close eye on Chippa and Gallants, and hope that they both drop points when they play their final round of matches on Saturday.

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