Brazilian Ribeiro scores as Sundowns reclaim top spot, set record

Brazilian Ribeiro scores as Sundowns reclaim top spot, set record

© AFP 2022
November 29, 2023 at 9:52 PM
Lucas Ribeiro (R) playing for Mamelodi Sundowns against Wydad Casablanca in the African Football League final on November 12, 2023.
Lucas Ribeiro (R) playing for Mamelodi Sundowns against Wydad Casablanca in the African Football League final on November 12, 2023.. Photo: PHILL MAGAKOE / AFP
Source: AFP

Brazilian Lucas Ribeiro scored after a superbly executed set-piece manoeuvre as Mamelodi Sundowns beat SuperSport United 2-0 on Wednesday to reclaim first place and set a South African Premiership record.

The mid-year signing from Belgian club SK Beveren timed his run past the SuperSport defensive wall perfectly to latch on to a chipped Neo Maema free-kick and slam the ball into the net.

Already in front against third-placed SuperSport thanks to a 31st-minute goal from Namibian Peter Shalulile, Ribeiro doubled the lead in the first minute of first half added time.

Ribeiro has made an immediate impact at the Pretoria club, scoring six goals in the Premiership and three in the CAF Champions League less than halfway through the season.

He shares the lead in the Premiership Golden Boot race with Tshegofatso Mabasa of Moroka Swallows and Khanyiso Mayo of Cape Town City.

Both teams wasted second-half chances in a Pretoria derby at nearby Atteridgeville that produced no further goals, and Sundowns moved two points above Cape Town City with four matches in hand.

Man-of-the-match Maema revealed that the set-piece move was the brainchild of coach Rulani Mokwena, a 36-year-old who never played professional football.

Mokwena quickly passed the credit to his players, however, as Sundowns made history by becoming the first Premiership club to win nine consecutive matches from the start of a season.

"It was my idea, but no plan works unless you have magnificent players like those at Sundowns to execute it," he said.

Mokwena is a hard taskmaster, saying he was not happy with the number of missed chances by a team chasing a record extending seventh straight league title and 14th overall.

"We could have scored six," he said of a side whose next fixture is a CAF Champions League group game against TP Mazembe in the Democratic Republic of Congo on Saturday.

Sundowns are unbeaten in 33 Premiership matches, across two seasons, since losing to SuperSport in September 2022.

On Tuesday, Stellenbosch climbed three places to fourth after extending an unbeaten run in all competitions to seven matches by winning 3-0 at bottom club Cape Town Spurs.

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© AFP 2022 photo
© AFP 2022