at the Union Buildings in Pretoria
Mamelodi Sundowns will be eager for an impressive showing this weekend in the Nedbank Cup semi-finals after dismal results in recent weeks.
The Brazilians face a stern test against Free State Stars in Atteridgeville on Saturday evening.
Sundowns have been poor in the closing stages of the league season, losing three of their last four matches after looking set to clinch the title, though they remain in second place as the strongest challengers to log leaders Orlando Pirates.
The side's coach, Johan Neeskens, expected a fighting display from his charges against their in-form Free State opponents.
“We're going to go out there and give 100 percent and see what the result is going to be,” Neeskens said.
Sundowns will be without suspended Elias Pelembe and Hlompho Kekana, though Teko Modise and Katlego Mphela were expected to be fit to start in the encounter.
“We are playing Stars, who are playing very well at the moment and are a very good team,” Neeskens said.
“They have played very well recently and they have good momentum with their results, with wins against Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs – big teams.
“I would say they are more the favourites in this game than we are.”
His opposite number, Steve Komphela, hoped Stars would build on their recent league form in an effort to reach the cup final.
The Free State outfit have won their last three Premiership encounters, including a 1-0 victory over Santos on Wednesday.
The visitors, however, were not getting ahead of themselves.
“Momentum is good, momentum is nice, but sometimes your goodness can be your weakness,” Komphela said.
“It's not nice to go play a match of this calibre coming off a victory.
“Again it means we have to apply a different strategy and psyche with the players.”
In the second cup semi-final on Sunday, SuperSport United take on 2010 runners-up AmaZulu in Polokwane.
United, who also stand an outside chance in the league race, have set their sights on a first knockout trophy in seven years.
Thabo September believed their 2-1 league loss to Pirates midweek had done little to deter their spirits.
“We are a team that has the best psychological recovery ability after a loss,” September said.
“The spirit is high after our loss even though we gave it our best effort in that game.
“If we win this trophy, we'll have something in the trophy cabinet, and we are going to Polokwane to fight.” – Sapa