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Football: Sundowns waste chance to overtake Chiefs

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(GlobalPost/GlobalPost)

Mamelodi Sundowns missed a chance to go top of the South African Premiership Sunday despite defeating Pretoria University 2-1 in a derby match.

Victory brought them level on 49 points with Kaizer Chiefs, but their plus-19 goal difference is one less than the long-time leaders.

A two-goal win at Loftus Versfeld -- a stadium Sundowns share with Super 15 rugby outfit Northern Bulls -- would have taken the record five-time champions top on goals scored.

Sundowns had a stoppage-time chance to increase their lead when Zimbabwean Cuthbert Malajila broke through, but his pass to unmarked Thabo Nthethe was overhit and the ball trickled wide.

Liberian Anthony Laffor put Sundowns ahead in first half stoppage-time, heading a millimetre-perfect lofted pass over onrushing Zimbabwean goalkeeper Washington Arubi.

Malawian Atusaye Nyondo levelled on 63 minutes with his seventh league goal this season, nodding past recalled Zambian goalkeeper Kennedy Mweene at his near post.

Sundowns regained the lead within three minutes thanks to close-range glancing header from Cheeseboy Mokoena that left Arubi helpless.

Defeat meant Pretoria remained 10th on the table with six fixtures to play -- eight points clear of the the relegation zone but six off a top-eight place.

The top eight league finishers compete in an early-season cup competition offering a winners-take-all eight million rand ($95,000-70,000 euros) prize.

Another target for clubs as the season heads toward the final straight is qualification for the African club competitions.

Orlando Pirates finished runners-up to Egyptians Al-Ahly in the last CAF Champions League and the resulting ranking points boost means two South African sides will enter the 2015 edition.

Barring a dramatic loss of form, Chiefs and Sundowns seem destined to fill those places.

The club finishing third enters the CAF Confederation Cup and Wits University hold a four-point advantage over Pirates with each side having eight games to play.

Wits won 1-0 at bottom club Lamontville Golden Arrows thanks to a 13th-minute Sthembiso Ngcobo goal and Tlou Segolela also struck early as Pirates triumphed 1-0 at home to Moroka Swallows.

Arrows trail second-last Polokwane City by seven points with caretaker coach and former South Africa star Shaun Bartlett unable to arrest the slide toward relegation.

Polokwane were held 1-1 at home by Free State Stars, the club one point above them, in a dire game that sprang to life for just 60 seconds during the closing stages.

Puleng Tlolane put City ahead through an unstoppable, edge-of-box volley only for Luyolo Nomandela to equalise via an angled shot.

The bottom club are automatically relegated and replaced by the second division champions while the second-last side enter play-offs with the second and third-place lower league finishers.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/140330/football-sundowns-waste-chance-overtake-chiefs