Thursday Dec 23, 2021. 22:28
Mamelodi Sundowns dropped points for the second successive time but nonetheless ended 2021 with a commanding 14-point lead at the top of the DStv Premiership, which has now wrapped up for the year after two matches on Thursday evening.
It was not a glorious end to the year for the reigning champions, who followed up their loss to AmaZulu on Monday (a first defeat of the season) with a 1-1 draw at home to Marumo Gallants at Loftus Versfeld Stadium in the early kick-off.
Bahlabane ba Ntwa claimed the lead through a Ndabayithethwa Ndlondlo penalty, but the Brazilians struck back through Lesedi Kapinga. Both goals were scored in the first half.
‘Downs lacked their usual spark and verve, with the effects of a brutal schedule this month (seven games in 19 days) clearly taking its toll. Nonetheless, they hold a strong lead at the top of the log and a record-extending fifth straight league crown is theirs to lose when the season resumes in February 2022.
Bahlabane ba Ntwa, meanwhile, remain in 11th place – six points clear of the relegation playoff zone.
Sundowns’ nearest chasers are Orlando Pirates, who moved into second spot with a 2-1 home win over AmaZulu at the Orlando Stadium in the late kick-off.
The Buccaneers’ hero was striker Kwame Peprah, who scored a brace for the second successive game, while Usuthu had claimed an early lead through Luvoyo Memela.
Pirates will head into 2022 hoping to establish themselves as Sundowns’ main rivals (albeit at a distance), while AmaZulu are fifth after seeing the end of an 11-game unbeaten run which stretched back to October.
The DStv Premiership will go into a lengthy recess encompassing the Africa Cup of Nations, with the league set to resume in mid-February 2022.
DStv Premiership results
Thursday 23 December
Mamelodi Sundowns 1-1 Marumo Gallants
Orlando Pirates 2-1 AmaZulu