Royal AM 2-3 Mamelodi Sundowns: Flu-hit Masandawana win to end season on a high
Zukile Mkhize, Royal AM & Peter Shalulile, Mamelodi Sundowns, April 2022
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The Brazilians defied an illness outbreak in their camp which depleted their squad to wrap up the league campaign in style

Gaston Sirino, Thabiso Kutumela and Peter Shalulile struck to fire champions Mamelodi Sundowns to a 3-2 victory over Royal AM in a rescheduled Premier Soccer League match at Chatsworth Stadium on Monday.

With the match initially abandoned on Saturday due to bad weather, Sundowns spiced up their crowning day with Sirino opening the scoreline 13 minutes into the match, before Kutumela struck three minutes into the second half.

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Shalulile then scored his 23rd goal of the season in the 61st minute while Victor Letsoalo’s 69th-minute goal and Mokete Mogaila’s strike on 76 minutes were not enough to save Royal AM’s afternoon.

Although striker Shalulile failed to match Collins Mbesuma’s PSL record of 25 season goals, it was still a beautiful afternoon for Sundowns.

Monday’s result saw the Brazilians frustrating Royal AM’s top-two ambitions to leave Thwihli Thwahla stuck fifth on the table ahead of their final match of the season against Orlando Pirates on Friday.

Having now gone for five straight league games without winning, Royal AM are now in a must-win situation against Pirates to overtake second-placed Cape Town City on goal difference.

The Brazilians arrived at Chatsworth with a severely depleted squad due to a flu outbreak in their camp.

A total of 17 players including key ones like Dennis Onyango, Themba Zwane, Andile Jali, Thapelo Morena, Rushine de Reuck and Bradley Ralani were unavailable for selection.

But that did not hold back the Brazilians who went ahead courtesy of Sirino's side-footed volley off a Siphelele Mkhulise assist.

Earlier on, the Tshwane giants had escaped danger when forward Kutumela came back for defensive duties by sliding in the box to block a goal-bound shot that looked likely to beat goalkeeper and captain of the day Kennedy Mweene.

Letsoalo then tried to hit back for Royal AM 10 minutes after Sirino’s goal but Divine Lunga headed the rising shot out for a corner kick.

A minute later, Letsoalo was back again but Mweene saved his tricky, bouncing shot.

Sundowns had to thank their defence for a steely showing at the back which frustrated the hosts with impressive interventions.

On the other side, the Royal AM defence closely guarded Shalulile who only got his first realistic chance at goal on 36 minutes but Jeffery Dlamini blocked his low shot.

Three minutes into the second half, Sirino turned provider to set up Kutumela Kutumela, who finished off with a sublime shot into the bottom corner to double Masandawana’s advantage.

Sundowns looked undone as Neo Maema witnessed his shot crash against the upright on the hour mark.

They kept on persisting and were rewarded again a minute later when Shalulile connected to a pass from Teboho Mokoena to make the afternoon more difficult for the hosts.

Soon after in the 63rd minute, Royal AM were handed a chance to pull one back from a spot-kick but Letsoalo saw his penalty saved by Mweene.

Letsoalo, however, made amends and finally got it right off a feed from Tebogo Potsane on 69 minutes.

With 14 minutes remaining and Royal AM looking for a comeback, Mogaila reduced the arrears further.

Sundowns now faced the risk of surrendering their 3-0 lead and needed some spirited defending, especially Grant Kekana’s vital block with seven minutes to go.