Mamelodi Sundowns' hopes of a record sixth South African Premiership title suffered a blow today when they could only draw 1-1 at home with modest Platinum Stars.
The result kept the expensively assembled Pretoria team in fourth position on the table, three points behind Orlando Pirates and one adrift of Kaizer Chiefs and Ajax Cape Town 17 rounds into the 2010/11 season. Sundowns, hot favourites to collect the $1.3m first prize just a few months ago, have won only one of their last six league matches under Spanish coach Antonio Lopez.
"We needed more energy and fighting spirit today, but the championship race does not end until May and we can still make it," said Lopez, an increasingly unpopular figure with Sundowns supporters.
South Africa FIFA World Cup™ midfielder Teko Modise - signed from Pirates in midweek - was left out and striker Katlego Mphela was a notable absentee amid his accusations that the club are preventing him moving to Europe.
Mid-table Platinum, whose nine draws is the most by a Premiership club this season, went ahead three minutes before half-time when Joseph Malongoane ran on to a through ball and chipped the ball across goalkeeper Wayne Sandilands.
Zimbabwean Nyasha Mushekwi levelled just short of the hour mark with a flying header past compatriot and official man of the match Tapuwa Kapini off a cross from Mozambican Elias Pelembe.