Mamelodi Sundowns and SuperSport United renew rivalry
JOHANNESBURG - After ensuring that all the domestic honours remained in Tshwane last season, Supersport United and Mamelodi Sundowns will be out to renew their rivalry for the first time this term when they lock horns in a top-of-the-table clash at the Lucas Masterpieces Moripe Stadium this afternoon.
Sundowns clinched a domestic treble last season – which included the Telkom Knockout, the Premiership crown and the Nedbank Cup. The Brazilians have now hit the high notes from the outset in their championship defence as they are at the summit of the standings.
In the first 10 matches of the league campaign, the Brazilians are undefeated, thanks to seven wins and three draws as they claimed 24 points. In their last encounter, they sailed past Baroka FC with ease, defeating them 2-0 in their own backyard.
But their lead at the top is not stable as neighbours Supersport are breathing down their neck. Matsantsantsa a Pitori are second on the standings with 22 points, two adrift from their fierce rivals whose championship last season ensured they bagged La Decima.
Supersport have had their fair of turbulences this season especially after surrendering their MTN8 crown after being booted out of the competition by finalist Bloemfontein Celtic in the semi-finals through a 2-1 defeat over the two-legged contest.
But having quietly gone about their business in the league – after seven wins, one draw and two losses – Supersport have ample reason to believe that they can climb to the top of the pile come the final whistle in Atteridgeville, especially with goal poacher Bradley Grobler in their midst.
But a large chunk of resurgence belonged to Kaizer Chiefs midweek. The Soweto giants returned to winning ways in the league in almost three months, defeating Amazulu through a solitary goal from returning striker Samir Nurkovic at the Jonsson Kings Park Stadium.
Wednesday’s away win for Chiefs, which was only their second in 10 matches, ensured that they moved away from the hazardous bottom-placed 14th position as they climbed 10th on the standings with 10 points, merely two behind eighth-placed Baroka.
But they’ll know that they are not out of the woods yet, especially with a tricky Cape Town City side set to host them at the Cape Town Stadium tonight (5pm kickoff) – in an encounter that could see the victors break into the top eight or four respectively.
The Citizens will be hellbent on returning to winning ways, after squandering their 2-0 lead and settling for a 2-all draw with Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila last Saturday. And they’ll be boosted by the return of some integral figures ahead of this highly-anticipated clash.
Thabo Nodada, Craig Martin and Mpho Makola will both be available for selection after recovering from COVID-19, while defensive duo Taariq Fielies and Abbubaker Mobara are notable absentees due to suspension and a hamstring tear respectively.
Out at the Thohoyandou Stadium tomorrow afternoon, in an encounter scheduled for 3.30pm, Orlando Pirates will be hoping for their second win in just four days in the scorching heat of Venda. On Wednesday night, they hammered rookies Tshakhuma 3-0.
Tomorrow, though, they’ll come up against Black Leopards. A win for Pirates in that encounter will give them a sense of belief that they can close in on the pacesetters in the title race, especially after a bumpy start to the New Year following a loss and a draw respectively.
The Kwazulu-natal derby will bring down the curtains on what promises to be a blockbuster weekend in top-flight. Amazulu who endured their first loss against Chiefs under coach Benni Mccarthy will be hoping for some redemption when they host Maritzburg United at Jonsson Kings Park tomorrow afternoon (3.30pm kickoff).
The loss against Chiefs ensured that Usuthu remained ninth on the standings with 10 points, while 13th-placed Maritzburg will be hoping to build on from this year’s impressive momentum under coach Ernst Middendorp after winning their last two matches respectively.