Sundowns wary of clinical Benni

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iol spt mar19 Benni Gallo Images Mamelodi Sundowns goalkeeper Wayne Sandilands says his defence cannot afford to let Benni McCarthy run riot.

Mamelodi Sundowns goalkeeper Wayne Sandilands says his defence cannot afford to let Benni McCarthy slip through in their top-of-the-table league clash against Orlando Pirates at Loftus on Tuesday evening.

The clinical veteran striker rolled back the years as he capitalised on Kaizer Chiefs' sloppy defence to net a brace in the Buccaneers' 3-2 win at the weekend.

“We won't afford any room for error at the back,” Sandilands said on Monday.

“If we give him half a chance, he will score.”

The Sundowns defence, prone to lapses of concentration, conceded in the last minute in a 1-1 draw against Wits last week.

They were, however, impressive defensively and upfront in their comprehensive 3-0 win over Ajax Cape Town on Saturday.

“We have to make sure that we are clinical in our decision making and have the same cohesiveness that we had against Ajax,” Sandilands said.

“We didn't start off well this year but we have improved. The good thing is that we also have not lost a game.”

As the season reaches the final stretch, the Brazilians lead the championship race with 40 points accumulated after 20 matches played.

The Buccaneers, the defending league champions, carry 36 points and are out to narrow the gap at the top of the standings.

Sandilands said they would concentrate on their own performances over the next two months, and would not concern themselves with the teams nipping at their heels.

Sundowns are in search of an unprecedented sixth Premiership title, and their first in five seasons.

“We are not putting any extra pressure on ourselves and are focussing on implementing the type of football we are capable of,” Sandilands said.

“We need to come with intensity in this match and not worry about who is chasing us, and try to focus on working as a unit.”

Pirates caretaker coach Augusto Palacios was conservative about his outfit's chances of retaining their league crown.

Only Sundowns, Chiefs and SuperSport United have been able to win back-to-back titles since the formation of the Premier Soccer League in 1996.

“I'm taking it game by game. If you win, then you can become a champion,” Palacios said on Saturday after the Soweto Derby.

“My ambition is to play good football with the team.”

Should Pirates stutter, third-placed Moroka Swallows, on 34 points, are ready to pounce when they meet bottom-placed Jomo Cosmos in Daveyton.

Ezenkhosi, however, have not lost a game this year, having drawn all five of their encounters since a lengthy mid-season break, and they will be confident of springing a surprise.

“The draws have helped, but we are now desperate for a win and we carry hope,” said Cosmos captain Avril Phali.

“Swallows have the experience in midfield, and they know how to get results.”

In Tuesday's only other match, AmaZulu take on Wits at Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban. – Sapa