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Downs end with a draw, Maritzburg out of drop zone

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PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA - MAY 16: Marcelo Allende of Mamelodi Sundowns and Travis Graham of Maritzburg United remember Alex Goldfinger Shakoene during the DStv Premiership match between Mamelodi Sundowns and Maritzburg United at  Loftus Versfeld Stadium on May 16, 2023 in Pretoria, South Africa. (Photo by Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Images)
PRETORIA, SOUTH AFRICA - MAY 16: Marcelo Allende of Mamelodi Sundowns and Travis Graham of Maritzburg United remember Alex Goldfinger Shakoene during the DStv Premiership match between Mamelodi Sundowns and Maritzburg United at Loftus Versfeld Stadium on May 16, 2023 in Pretoria, South Africa. (Photo by Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Images)

Maritzburg United sit one point above the relegation zone after rallying back to hold Mamelodi Sundowns 1-1 on Tuesday night.

Sundowns coach Rulani Mokwena rested the regulars ahead of their return leg against Wydad Casablanca, with only Neo Maema retaining his spot from Saturday's draw.

There was a start for 16-year-old sensation Siyabonga Mabena, who impressed at the recent U-17 Africa Cup of Nations, while 19-year-old Ntandoyenkosi Nkosi was named on the bench.

The Team of Choice needed to secure maximum points to move out of the relegation, with Marumo Gallants and Maritzburg United only in action on Saturday.

The visitors nearly got off to the perfect start when Amadou Soukouna was slipped through on goal after 16 minutes, but the striker was unable to find away past Denis Onyango.

Maritzburg were made to rue that missed chance as Sundowns took the lead on 24 minutes when Surprise Ralani combined with Maema on the edge of the box before lobbing the advancing Renaldo Leaner.

Sundowns continued to dominate thereafter as they went in search of more goals, but the Maritzburg defence did well stifle their Tshwane counterparts.

Maritzburg had a good response from the interval as Bonginkosi Makume came very close to levelling matters three minutes in with a header that came off the crossbar from a corner.


The Brazilians waited for United to come at them and pounce on counter-attacks as just before the hour-mark Gaston Sirino beat his marker through on goal and had a crack at goal that was smothered by Leaner.

Mokwena needed to jack up the performance of his team just after that as Cassius Mailula and Sphelele Mkhulise both came on for Marcelo Allende and Mabena.

However, Maritzburg continued to push Sundowns further back and Jose Ali Meza eventually got the equaliser for the visitors against his former side just after coming on in the last 20 minutes with a low strike in the six-yard box.

Mokwena added firepower in attack in the closing stages, as Abubaker Nasir replaced Ralani and the game was there for the taking, as Maritzburg also launched attacks but there were no clear chances, as the game ended all square.

Sundowns ended their season with 70 points, one point shy of a record of 71 points they posted in the 2015-16 season while Maritzburg moved off the bottom of the log, up to 14th and will await the final results of Marumo Gallants and Chippa United to know their status.

Confirmed line-ups:

Mamelodi Sundowns: D.Onyango, Kekana, Mashego, Lebusa, Coetzee, Zungu, Allende, Maema, Mabena, Ralani, Sirino

Subs: Pieterse, B.Onyango, Mohamme, Ngobeni, Mkhulise, Nkosi, Mailula, Nasir

Maritzburg United: Leaner, De Goede, Theron, Njoti, Graham, Cross, Makume, Soukouna, Palace, Human, Kimvuidi

Subs: Langa, Ritchie, Peprah, Moloisane, Meza, Tlolane, Bhengu, Samu, Jooste

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