Downs out to cut the gap

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iol spt mar25 Sundowns Gallo Images Mamelodi Sundowns will take a two-hour drive to Rustenburg with the objective of reducing the gap between themselves and Kaizer Chiefs to just three points. Photo by Steve Haag/Gallo Images

With the Absa Premiership race entering the home-stretch, contenders Mamelodi Sundowns will take a two-hour drive to Rustenburg tonight with the objective of reducing the gap between themselves and table-toppers Kaizer Chiefs to three points.

In their way stands reigning MTN8 and Telkom Knockout champions Platinum Stars, who are aiming to bounce back after the weekend fixtures.

A win for the Brazilians could set up a do-or-die battle decider against Chiefs when they meet on Saturday April 5.

The Pretoria club are six points adrift of the table-toppers and with Chiefs only playing their next league match on April 2 against Golden Arrows, a win tonight and on Sunday against University of Pretoria may see them on equal points by the end of the week.

After their aspirations of a cup treble came crashing down at the weekend, a seething Stars will be in no giving mood when they clash against PSL title contenders Sundowns.

Stars veteran striker Henrico Botes said the team was greatly disappointed in the manner they were eliminated from the Nedbank Cup at the weekend when they lost on penalties to Maritzburg United.

The next team standing in their way (Sundowns) will thus feel the full wrath of their frustration.

“The loss was a huge disappointment for the whole team.

“As you can imagine, we had the belief that we could go all the way and win the cup. For us to get knocked out in the manner that we did is a big knock.

“I think a lot of players will be out to express their feelings tonight when we play,” the former Namibian international said before the encounter at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium.

Having set themselves the lofty target of winning a third cup title of the season and failing, the Phokeng club’s objectives have changed and their focus has shifted to being competitive in the Premiership race.

“It now means that we are only looking at the league and finishing as high as we possibly can at the end of the season.

“We have a few games remaining before it’s all over, therefore we are aiming to make the best of the games we still have to play,” Botes said.

The second-placed Brazilians are buoyed by the return to full fitness of influential midfielder Khama Billiat after an extended time on the sidelines due to injury.

Sundowns are riding high on a four-match winning streak in which they scored eight goals.

With eight rounds of matches remaining in the season, teams in the PSL are scrambling to fulfil their goals.

With the race nearing the end, both Stars and Sundowns have set themselves high expectations for this campaign.

With the two sides having drawn in the first round clash, tonight’s game looks set to turn into scintillating viewing.

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