Bloemfontein Celtic 0-0 Mamelodi Sundowns: Siwelele frustrate defending champions
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Phunya Sele Sele put on a valiant display as they denied Masandawana the three points on Wednesday night

Mamelodi Sundowns were denied victory on Wednesday evening as they played out to a goalless draw with Bloemfontein Celtic.

The defending champions looked to make it two wins on the trot as they travelled to the Free State's capital.

After brushing aside Golden Arrows recently, Sundowns were looking to continue their rise up the Premier Soccer League (PSL) table as Pitso Mosimane named a largely unchanged starting XI.

Denis Onyango returned to the starting line-up, while Gaston Sirino was forced to settle for a place on the bench following his recovery from injury.

Meanwhile, Celtic were beginning life without influential defender Alfred Ndengane as the PSL Player of the Month for August departed the club.

This left coach Steve Komphela with no option but to reshuffle his back four which has only conceded three goals in the league this season.

Ronald Pfumbidzai partnered Lorenzo Gordinho in the heart of the defence, and it was a busy evening for the duo as they were immediately called into action by the likes of Phakamani Mahlambi and Toni Silva.

Sundowns though, have not scored in the opening 15 minutes this season and they made their intentions known early on as Silva hit the crossbar with his header after a superb cross by Mahlambi.

Minutes later, Celtic keeper Patrick Tignyemb was called into action, getting down well to palm Hlompho Kekana’s rasping effort away from danger.

While Sundowns completely dominated the opening exchanges, Celtic came within a whisker of grabbing the lead after 20 minutes.

First, Ndumiso Mabena stung the palms of Onyango before Lantshene Phalane’s well executed long range shot was gobbled up by the Ugandan keeper.

With the half-time whistle looming, it was Sundowns who were back on the front foot, but for all their dominance they could not find a breakthrough and went into the interval deadlocked.

The last time these two sides met, the game ended in a goalless draw, and Mosimane in particular, was keen to avoid the same result.

This saw them come out of the gates firing as they looked to add to their seven goals which they had already scored this season, and Mahlambi gave the Celtic defence all sorts of problems.

The former Al Ahly attacker’s youthful exuberance almost paid off early on in the second half as Ryan De Jongh was almost left with pie on his face as his attempted clearance almost backfired. De Jongh’s clearance hit the 21-year-old, but fortunately for him, the ball flew out for a goal kick.  

Although, Sundowns continued to dominate possession, goals were not forthcoming as they struggled to test Tignyemb.

This saw Mosimane react by removing Mahlambi and introducing danger man Sirino to add some creative spark upfront.

However, it was at the other end where Sundowns needed to be wary. Gordinho tested Onyango with a towering header as he latched onto a superb free-kick.

Sundowns and Celtic both failed to score on just one occasion this season, and with time beginning to run out, both sides went in search of what would be a winner on a cold night in the Free State.

Arguably, Celtic’s best chance of the game fell to Tebogo Potsane, who did everything right as he beat the offside trap, but with only Onyango to beat, his finishing left much to be desired as he failed to find the target.

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In a final throw of the proverbial dice, Mosimane threw on Jose Ali Meza and Themba Zwane.

Meza was a danger from the onset as he tested Tignyemb with a shot which the keeper parried onto the path of Lebohang Maboe, who made no mistake, but the latter was denied his third goal of the season as the assistant referee raised his flag for an offside.

Nonetheless, try as Sundowns did to find the winning goal, it was not to be as both teams settled for a share of the spoils.

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