Cape Town City and Swallows FC played to a 0-0 draw in the first leg of their MTN8 semifinal at the Athlone Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
A 90-minute arm-wrestle between two determined opponents saw neither able to enforce their will on the other, though the Citizens did enjoy more possession and created the better chances, with the Birds perhaps satisfied at having reduced the tie to a one-off clash on their home ground in a month’s time.
City started the stronger of the two teams and nearly claimed the lead through Terrence Mashego, whose powerful burst down the left flank ended with a low shot which flashed across the face of goal in just the second minute.
Swallows, though, soon settled into a rhythm and found space for the likes of Khetukuthula Ndlovu and Dillon Solomons with relative ease, while striker Ruzaigh Gamildien headed off target from a decent chance in the 12th minute.
The Birds’ off-the-ball movement and attacking thrust from fullback Thabo Matlaba caused trouble in the 18th minute, with Mbulelo Wambi given a sight of goal, but his low shot lacked the power to beat goalkeeper Hugo Marques.
City were inches away from breaking the deadlock midway through the first half, with Khanyisa Mayo’s excellent delivery from a kick finding Abbubaker Mobara unmarked, but his volleyed shot from a tight angle struck the woodwork.
The hosts ended the half with a spell of pressure, including a long-range effort from Mayo which was brilliantly saved by goalkeeper Virgil Vries, and the subsequent corner kick on the cusp of the break saw Taariq Fielies miss out from a free header.
The early minutes of the second stanza saw the teams trade attacks end-to-end, though the first clear chance after the restart only arrived jut after the hour mark: Mashego’s low cross was turned goal-wards by Mayo, but Vries was on hand to deny the young attacker with another good save.
The Citizens were bossing possession by this stage and threatened again with a quarter hour of regulation time to play, as substitute Shane Roberts struck an effort just wide from a free kick.
The Birds were reduced to rare counter attacks in terms of threat – despite the late introductions of Mwape Musonda, Zaphaniah Mbokoma and Fawaaz Basadien – and City continued to pile on the pressure, with Abdul Ajagun twice coming close in the dying minutes.
However, the match came to a close with the score line still blank, leaving the tie very much in the balance.
The teams will meet for the return leg at Dobsonville Stadium on Wednesday 29 September, with the aggregate winners going on to face either Mamelodi Sundowns or Golden Arrows in the final.
Cape Town City 0Swallows FC 0
Cape Town City:Marques, Mkhize, Mobara, Fielies, Mashego, Makola, Ajagun, Mdantsane (Makhuoane 89’), Martin, Ralani (Roberts 75’), Mayo (Mapfumo 62’)
Swallows:Vries, Matlaba, Sait, Sibiya, Sasman, Nyatama, Matlou (Nene 71’), Wambi (Musonda 71’), Solomons (Mbokoma 81’), Ndlovu (Makgalwa 61’), Gamildien (Basadien 81’)© Backpage TXT