Johannesburg (AFP) – Speedster Ashley du Preez scored twice as Stellenbosch stunned champions Mamelodi Sundowns 3-0 on Saturday in the penultimate round of the South African Premiership.
Du Preez, widely regarded as the fastest forward in the 16-club league, struck after six and 57 minutes with Jayden Adams netting just before half-time.
It was the first Premiership loss in Pretoria this season for Sundowns in their final home fixture of the campaign, and the heaviest domestic defeat since 2016.
The shock outcome at the University of Pretoria Stadium had little impact on the table as Sundowns are 13 points ahead of second-placed Cape Town City with one fixture to fulfil.
Stellenbosch lie fifth and could finish third, which would earn the Cape winelands club a place in the 2022-2023 CAF Confederation Cup, the African equivalent of the UEFA Europa League.
“Playing against a quality team like Sundowns means you are going to have little possession,” said Stellenbosch coach Steve Barker.
“Our only hope lay in swift counterattacks, using the pace of Ashley (du Preez) and others, and the game plan worked well.”
Both Du Preez goals came when he outsprinted Sundowns defenders and fired past Richardo Goss, the fourth-choice goalkeeper given only his second start of the season.
Quick-thinking Adams scored only his second Premiership goal of the season through a perfectly weighted lob as Goss was caught well off his line.
– Only one home win –
In an unusual round, only one of the seven hosts won and just two of them scored. Stellenbosch were one of two away winners and there were four draws, three of them goalless.
Cape Town (49 points), Royal AM (46 with a game in hand), Kaizer Chiefs (46) and Orlando Pirates (40 with two games in hand) are the contenders to finish second and join Sundowns in the CAF Champions League.
City were held 0-0 at home by AmaZulu, Royal led twice in a 2-2 Durban derby draw at Golden Arrows and Chiefs snatched a 1-0 away win over Sekhukhune United in a Johannesburg showdown.
Chiefs’ match-winner came from a blunder by Ghanaian defender Edwin Gyimah, whose intended headed clearance was misdirected and intercepted by scorer Ramahlwe Mphahlele.
Pirates did not play as they were preparing to host Al Ahly Tripoli of Libya on Sunday in the second leg of a Confederation Cup semi-final with the South Africans leading 2-0 on aggregate.
The lone home winners were bottom club Baroka, who kept alive hopes of avoiding relegation by defeating SuperSport United 3-1 in northern region capital Polokwane.
Bonginkosi Makume converted two penalties within four minutes midway through the opening half to set up only a sixth win in 29 league matches for the home side.
Baroka are level on 25 points with Swallows, who were held 0-0 in Soweto by Chippa United, but have an inferior goal difference.
TS Galaxy drew 0-0 with visiting Marumo Gallants and are not out of danger as they lie only two points above the other contenders for one automatic relegation place.