Pretoria – In a quest for their first win of the season, Mamelodi Sundowns embark on a week-long invasion of Soweto, starting Wednesday with a premier league clash against Moroka Swallows, before facing Orlando Pirates a week later.
The first of these two fixtures takes place at Dobsonville Stadium, where the defending champions would be pitted against two opposition players greatly admired by Sundowns' captain Alje Schut.
“I am still a big fan of Siyabonga Nomvethe. He is amazing,” Schut said.
“And they also have Lerato Chabangu whom I like a lot. He is a great talent.”
While the Brazilians had been dominant in the pre-season games – demolishing Swallows 5-0 in last month's Gauteng Cup – a wicked twist of fate saw Swallows start the season on a much brighter note.
Since then, however, Sundowns had produced a string of poor results – losing 2-1 to Platinum Stars in the MTN8 competition, 1-0 to Ajax Cape Town in the Premiership and drawing 1-1 against Maritzburg United, also in a league fixture.
Swallows, meanwhile, had won both their league fixtures 2-1, against AmaZulu and Orlando Pirates, and Schut said Wednesday's game would be a big challenge.
“They have really impressed me so far in the league. We played them in pre-season and now all of a sudden they are playing the best football,” he said.
“I don't know how they managed to turn it around but it just goes to show that they have quality.
“I think they are going to be the wildcard in the league race. They can win against anybody. We have to be very cautious about them and let's hope we can take the three points.”
With Sundowns' supporters growing ever more disgruntled with their team, Schut said it was crucial they registered their first win against Swallows.
“We have to win the match. At Sundowns, we are expected to win every match and it would give us a great confidence boost before we play Pirates.”
Schut was confident his team would overcome its hurdles and backed newly-signed striker Mame Niang to be a big part of the club's success this season.
“Mame gives us something extra. It is just up to us now how we fit him into the team. I think we'll only get stronger.”
Also playing on Wednesday, Pirates go up against AmaZulu at the Orlando Stadium, SuperSport United travel to the Charles Mopeli Stadium to face Free State Stars and Wits host Maritzburg United at the Bidvest Stadium.
Mpumalanga Black Aces host Platinum Stars at the Mbombela Stadium, and Chippa United square off against University of Pretoria at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium. – Sapa