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Mamelodi Sundowns

Sundowns start season as they ended the last by topping table

Johannesburg (AFP) – Mamelodi Sundowns began the new South African Premiership season as they finished the previous one — topping the table after the completion of the first round on Sunday. 

The highlight of the eight-match fixture list in the richest African national league was a showdown between Sundowns and Cape Town City, who came second last May, a distant 16 points adrift.   

After an hour of lively football before a 15,000 crowd at Cape Town Stadium, Sundowns scored twice within two minutes to win 2-0 and occupy first place.

Aubrey Modiba ended the deadlock by lifting a free-kick over a defensive wall and into the net past veteran goalkeeper Hugo Marques.

Another veteran, Sundowns captain Themba Zwane, then struck by flicking the ball past Angolan Marques as he dashed off his line.

Promoted Richards Bay also won 2-0, away to Golden Arrows in a regional derby in Durban, but lie second when the alphabet was used to separate clubs level on points, goal difference and goals scored.

The first Bay scorer, Somila Ntsundwana, is unknown to South African football followers, but not the second as Abel Mabaso joined from Orlando Pirates, one of the three most popular Premiership sides.

Pirates began life under Spanish coach Jose Riveiro with a 1-0 home win over fellow Soweto club Swallows with a goal from a new signing, Cameroonian Bienvenu Eva Nga, on 10 minutes dividing the teams.

The lack of a consistent scorer has hampered Pirates for years and supporters are banking on the physically imposing 29-year-old central African to solve the problem.

Kaizer Chiefs complete the ‘big three’ with Sundowns and Pirates, and they began disappointingly under new coach Arthur Zwane, losing 1-0 away to Royal AM in Durban. 

The only goal arrived just 59 seconds after the kick-off with Brazilian Ricardo Nascimento firing a low shot into the corner of the net after Chiefs failed to clear a corner.

Goals were scarce in the first round with only 10, and two matches failed to produce any. Apart from Eva Nga and Nascimento, another foreigner to score was Zimbabwean Ronald Pfumbidzai for Chippa United.

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