Posts Tagged ‘mamelodi sundowns’

Mamelodi Sundowns v Bidvest Wits, Sunday 12th July 2015, 10am

September 6, 2015

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After our trip to Moruleng Stadium for the Maize Cup and the subsequent drive around Pilanesburg, Jen and I stayed over nearby at Kedar Lodge. I hadn’t realised at the time when we booked it but it had a fantastic collection of Boer War memorabilia, better than that of a lot of museums that we’ve been to.

Unfortunately, with arriving late and then leaving early for a 10am game we didn’t get to give it much more than a cursory glance. Maybe next time.

The game was at Dobsonville Stadium, home of Sowetan team Moroka Swallows. I’d been trying to see a match there ever since we’d arrived but the fixtures invariably seemed to be scheduled for an evening and a daytime drive past the ground had suggested that it wasn’t the place to be after dark.

It didn’t really seem to be the place to be at 9.30 in the morning on this occasion either as some protesters had set up a roadblock of burning tyres close to the ground. I didn’t hang around to take a photo, but got one on the way out when just the smoke remained.

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There was a women’s international scheduled for 3pm, but we were there for the 10am curtain raiser, the final of the national under 17 competition. Entry was free on production of a voucher, which someone very kindly handed to us as we approached the turnstile.

The ground was close to empty as we took our seats in the main stand, although I’d like to think that by the time of the main event a few more people would have taken advantage of a free day out.

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Sundowns were in their usual yellow with Wits in navy. Both sides had their share of players who looked far too big to be seventeen, but I suppose that’s the nature of age-group football. You wonder whether the bigger lads are only there because of their size and then whether the smaller fellas will grow enough to have a chance of making it in the professional ranks.

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There wasn’t a lot of support coming from the stands, with the most noise being made by the Sundowns squad members who hadn’t made the bench. They stood and sang for the whole of the second half;

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The game was goalless under a couple of minutes from full-time. With penalties looking likely the Sundowns left winger cut inside and curled a right footed shot beyond the Wits keeper and into the corner of the net. That was sufficient to take the cup and, as far as I was concerned, to finally bring the 2015/16 season to an end.

Mamelodi Sundowns v Ajax Cape Town, Saturday 16th May 2015, 3pm

July 2, 2015

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I’d seen games at all of the 2010 World Cup stadiums bar one, although at two of them it was rugby rather than football. The Nelson Mandela Bay stadium in Port Elizabeth was the missing entry on my list and so the decision to host the 2015 Nedbank Cup Final there turned out to be a pleasant surprise.

On the plane.

On the plane.

I should have seen a game at the stadium a couple of months earlier and had gone as far as booking an afternoon off work, flights and a hotel to coincide with a Friday evening Chippa United game. However, as so often happens the date was changed shortly before it was due to take place and whilst we had a nice enough weekend in Port Elizabeth, we didn’t see any football.

We did get to spend some time in Addo Elephant Park on that previous visit and it was good enough for us  to want to do the same again this time. The decision was made easy by the memories of a lion sauntering along the road past our car.

Too close to fit the photo.

Too close to fit the photo.

We also stumbled across a herd, or multiple herds, of elephants that had to be close to one hundred and fifty strong. We’ve seen big herds in various National Parks in the past, but nothing to that extent.

I suppose it is an elephant park.

I suppose it is an elephant park.

On that first visit we also did some hiking in an area of the park that had no animals with big teeth. It had plenty of spiders though and as we were the first people on the Zuurberg Trail that morning we unwittingly broke numerous webs with our faces.

Just as well it didn't have big teeth.

Just as well it didn’t have big teeth.

The highlight of Addo Elephant Park second time around was getting extremely close to some elephants. Close enough that if anything had gone wrong we’d have been the latest wildlife-related mishap to have featured in the Darwin Awards.

On one occasion we were parked next to dense undergrowth and we could hear the elephants eating their way through it until they emerged a few feet ahead of us. A little further along the track I pulled up just before a path crossed the road and waited for the elephant walking along it to cross in front of us. I held my breath as it paused within touching distance of the car as if to consider whether to flip us into a ditch.

There wasn't much dispute over Right of Way.

There wasn’t much dispute over Right of Way.

And so to the match. The Chiefs and Pirates had both been knocked out of the Nedbank Cup in the quarter-finals, opening the door to Mamelodi Sundowns and Ajax Cape Town. We had a bit of excitement on the way to the ground when the car behind drove into us. There was minimal damage to our hire car and with the rear bumper easily pushed back into position we shook hands and left it at that.

As we spoke to people on the way to the stadium I was amazed at the number of fans of the Chiefs and Pirates that were at the game. They were temporarily supporting Ajax in the hope that the Sundowns wouldn’t pick up a trophy. It seemed all too bitter to me. Whilst I’d prefer Newcastle or Sunderland not to win anything I doubt I’d go to the trouble of turning up and cheering for their opposition. Unless, of course, the opposition was us.

On the way in.

On the way in.

We had posh eighty rand (four quid) seats in the tunnel side stand, but there looked to be just as much room and a good enough view from the forty rand general admission areas elsewhere. It was cold though and I looked enviously at the people who had picked up free scarfs on the way in.

The more vocal of the fans were in the stand opposite to us with the Sundowns supporters taking up positions closer to the pitch whilst those from Cape Town were further up towards the back.

No segregation necessary.

No segregation necessary.

It was a fairly even game with both teams limiting the amount of decent chances on offer and it was goalless at the ninety minute mark. As a freezing cold neutral I’d have been happy with a last minute winner for either side, but it wasn’t to be.

View to the left.

View to the left.

Extra-time brought little difference and as we neared the final whistle both teams seemed content to play for penalties.

Some rare goalmouth action.

Some rare goalmouth action.

It all looked to be going well for Ajax in the shoot-out with, if I remember rightly, them being 3-1 ahead with just two penalties remaining for each side. Defeat for the Sundowns was so close that the Pirates fan next to me got me in a bear hug and kissed me. I was grateful for the warmth and appreciated the lack of tongues.

Hat of the Day.

Hat of the Day.

As so often happens though, the big team wins. Ajax missed their remaining two chances to seal the victory and Sundowns drew level before clinching the trophy in the sudden death penalty phase. The fella next to me had slunk away at 3-3, no doubt to avoid the prospect of being kissed by any of the celebrating Sundowns fans.

 

 

Platinum Stars v Mamelodi Sundowns, Sunday 22nd March 2015, 3pm

April 23, 2015

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This weekend started with the second of Jen’s races. It was a half-marathon this time at Hartbeespoort and with a 6.20am start we spent the night before in a hotel near to the start line.

The early morning melee seemed a bit chaotic to me with 50k, 10k and 5k races all taking place in addition to the half marathon. To make matters worse, lots of runners arrived late and were forced to fight their way through the people lining up for the next race just to make the start line. I know that there will be people who have put a lot of time and effort into organising the event but it seemed to me that the best solution would be to have four separate events spread over the year. People could even run all four races that way.

Anyway, once the half marathon was underway I retired to MacDonalds to read the paper before returning to the finish to see Jen record a personal best time.

And they're off!

And they’re off!

Once the race was over we headed off to Pilanesberg National Park. The highlight of the first day was watching a couple of jackals feeding on a bird at one of the lakes. They didn’t want to share, meaning that the dominant one spent as much time chasing away the other one as it did eating his dinner.

The second jackal had just started eating when a group of elephants drinking nearby decided that they’d rather the jackal wasn’t there and by advancing in a tightly packed group, chased it away. The jackal wasn’t prepared to leave the bird though and backed away to the required distance pulling the carcass with it.

Jackal and its dinner.

Jackal and its dinner.

Next morning at the same lake we spent some time watching baboons climbing a tree and then jumping into the water. Some were happy to be doing it just for the fun of the splash whilst some were trying to push others into the water. There would be the odd chase or fight but it was mostly just leaping into the lake for the fun of it. I half expected one of them to shout “Geronimo“ on the way in.

"Geronimo"

“Geronimo”

On the way back home from Pilanesberg we called in at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium for the Nedbank Cup last sixteen game between Platinum Stars and Mamelodi Sundowns. It’s a ground that I’d been to before, for a game between New Zealand and Slovakia in the 2010 World Cup, but oddly I didn’t realise this until afterwards.

In fact, I spent the game wondering why the ground I was in hadn’t been used for the World Cup when it looked so similar to the nearby stadium with the almost identical name that I falsely recalled from five years ago. In my defence we did approach it from a different direction and sat in other areas of the stands, but even so. Maybe it’s old age.

On the way in.

On the way in.

We parked on a field a couple of hundred yards away which was filling up with Sundowns fans. There wasn’t much in the way of security and with our weekend bags visible in the back of the car I wasn’t all that confident that they would still be there when we got back.

We were thoroughly searched on the way in and ended up two bottles of coke and a chocolate bar down. What’s the point of taking a chocolate bar from someone? Would they do it to a small child?

Hat of the Day

Hat of the Day

There were still ten minutes to kick-off when we took our seats in the middle tier of the main stand. At that stage there were probably more fans outside than there were in the stadium. Nobody, except us, ever seems in a hurry to get into games over here and there were still people turning up well into the second half. We saw a group of kids who had been in the parking field when we arrived finally reach their seats twenty minutes in. Perhaps they’d been arguing over having their chocolate confiscated.

View from the main stand

View from the main stand

The Sundowns fans were congregated opposite us and made up the majority of the three or four thousand crowd. They made plenty of noise though, keeping up the singing all game.

The Platinum Stars support was harder to spot. They had a few fans up near us, but there were as many Chiefs and Pirates shirts as their own. It was only on the twenty five minute mark when their brass band turned up that the home fans started to get behind their team.

The Boys in the Band

The Boys in the Band

We changed seats for the second half, braving the risk of rain to sit further round in the open section. When the rain eventually arrived we nipped downstairs and took up seats in the back row of the lower tier, under the overhang. That’s one of the advantages of small crowds.

The main stand

The main stand

And the game? Well, Sundowns looked the better side. They always do look the better side in those Brazil strips. They took the lead on the half hour before Stars levelled  close to half-time. With the prospect of extra time looming, Sundowns settled matters with two goals in the last few minutes.

Chiefs and Pirates both went out of the competition the previous day and Sundowns will no doubt fancy their chances of picking up the cup.